During close approaches, can Mars appear in our sky as large as the Moon?
I received an email saying that Mars will come within 35 million miles of the Earth in August of 2006, and that it will look as large as the full Moon to the naked eye. Can this be true? I don't know much about this but I know that generally Mars looks like a star, so I figure it would have to be pretty close to look like the Moon.
No, this is not true. Snopes has a good article about this (I always check Snopes whenever I get an email like this, and they almost always set me straight).
There are two problems: first of all, the event people are talking about -- Mars' close approach to the Earth -- occurred in 2003, not in 2006. Secondly, however, even in 2003, there was only a very tiny visual difference. Mars was nowhere near as large as the moon in our sky. What was true was that with a modest telescope with 75x magnification, an amateur astronomer would be able to see Mars as large as the moon looks using only the naked eye.
Get More 'Curious?' with Our New PODCAST:
- Podcast? Subscribe? Tell me about the Ask an Astronomer Podcast
- Subscribe to our Podcast | Listen to our current Episode
- Cool! But I can't now. Send me a quick reminder now for later.
How to ask a question:
If you have a follow-up question concerning the above subject, submit it here. If you have a question about another area of astronomy, find the topic you're interested in from the archive on our site menu, or go here for help.Table 'curious.Referrers' doesn't existTable 'curious.Referrers' doesn't exist
This page has been accessed 14175 times since August 8, 2006.
Last modified: August 8, 2006 3:21:58 PM
Ask an Astronomer is hosted by the Astronomy Department at Cornell University and is produced with PHP and MySQL.
Warning: Your browser is misbehaving! This page might look ugly. (Details)