Tonight is the night the whole world is waiting for … Earth will have two moons.
An email being circulated tells amateur astronomers that the planet Mars will be so bright that, to the naked eye, “it will appear to be the same size as the moon.” The message says “no one alive today will ever see it again,” because it won’t happen again until 2287 — that’s 277 years from now.
As you might have guessed, that’s just bogus.
“No; Mars would be very hard to see. It would look fairly dim. It is in the western sky in the evening right now.”
Madison Area Technical College (MATC) astronomy instructor Dixie Burns says Mars is right next to Venus, which is much brighter. Burns says Mars can never appear to be as big as the moon, no matter how many years we wait around to see it.
“No; it can’t be because it’s too far away … Mars is millions of miles away from us.”
Why would someone just make this stuff up? Burns gives them the benefit of the doubt, saying it might have started out as a misunderstanding, yet the email circulates every August. Mars does get a little closer to our planet every two years, if you’re interested.
Despite the Mars hoax, Burns says there will be something to see in the night sky. Jupiter is pretty close to Earth and very bright. Burns says backyard astronomers can look in the eastern sky to see Jupiter and its four moons.