I spent the July 4 weekend with family. During this time I learned that the planet Mars would shortly move closer to the Earth than it has in all of recorded history -- so close, in fact, that it would appear as large as the moon in the night sky. I was also informed that scientists were unsure what kind of catastrophic effects this would have on our planet.
Fear not, Earthlings. This isn't happening. It's a hoax, making the rounds again this summer after first winding up in e-mail inboxes in 2003.
Mars is roughly twice the size of our moon, with a diameter of about 4,213 miles. As an informative article on Science.com points out, for Mars to appear as large as the moon to us , it'd have to move in to a distance of 476,000 miles, which is twice our distance from the moon. Mars currently keeps a distance of around 189 million miles, farther away than when the hoax spread in 2003.
Mars isn't going to pull a catastrophic drive-by on us. Its denizens aren't attacking our cities and there's no giant carving of a human face there. Learn more and test your space knowledge at HowStuffWorks.com: How Mars Works How the Mars Exploration Rovers Work Mars Quiz Moon Quiz Why do people believe the moon landings were a hoax? Top 10 Space Conspiracy Theories