Every year since 2003, the Two-Moon Hoax appears right on schedule during the month of August. But scientists and astronomers are urging people to stop forwarding the hoax emails, and end the decade-long hoax once and for all.
The "Mars Spectacular" myth started in 2003 when an email circulated worldwide claiming that Mars would look as large as the full Moon to the naked eye on Aug. 27, 2003.
Here are portions of the email message:
"The Red Planet is about to be spectacular! This month and next, Earth is catching up with Mars in an encounter that will culminate in the closest approach between the two planets in history…The next time Mars will come this close is in 2287…it may be as long as 60,000 years before it happens again."
"The encounter will culminate in Aug. 27…Mars will look as large as the full moon to the naked eye…Share this with your children and grandchildren. No one alive will ever see this again."
Since the hoax's conception, it has predictably resurfaced every year, and it usually starts flooding inboxes at least a week before Aug. 27.
According to Dr. Tony Philips of NASA.gov, it is impossible for Mars to get too close to the Earth and suddenly appear "as large as the full moon." For that to happen, there would have to be a radical change in the way the two planets are moving along their orbits as opposed to the normal way that they progress.
Scitech officer Leon Smith said that the appeal of a once in a lifetime look at a moon-sized Mars might have kept the hoax alive, but he urges people not to pass on the hoax.
Moreover, spam emails like these could contain malware or links to inappropriate websites, so recipients of these types of emails should never forward them, and it is advisable to delete the emails completely from inboxes and trash files.