Sorry, skywatchers: Despite what you may have heard, Mars won't look as big as the moon overhead tonight (Aug. 27).
The "Mars Hoax" has been popping up every Aug. 27 since 2003, when it was born in a widely misinterpreted email. The unknown sender of that message was trying to get people excited about an unusually close approach of Mars to Earth in late August 2003.
"The encounter will culminate on Aug. 27 when Mars comes to within 34,649,589 miles (55,763,108 kilometers) of Earth and will be (next to the moon) the brightest object in the night sky," one paragraph of the email reads. "It will attain a magnitude of -2.9 and will appear 25.11 arc seconds wide. At a modest 75-power magnification, Mars will look as large as the full moon to the naked eye. Mars will be easy to spot."