Will we really see planet Mars as big as our Earth's moon?

Recently, claims have been circulating on social media that Mars will approach Earth and even appear as big as the full moon in the sky on August 27, 2020. This news, which emerged during a similar convergence in 2003 and was repeated from time to time, unfortunately is only a hoax, although it attracts the attention of the society to astronomy. The claims spread so much that NASA made a statement, announcing that Mars would not look as big as a full moon.

Another of the Earth-Mars convergences that we will experience on August 27, 2020 took place on August 27, 2003. According to NASA's Mars Exploration Program, the distance between Mars and Earth has been shorter than ever before in the last 60,000 years and has dropped to about 56 million km. In this important astronomical event, Mars looked brighter than in previous ordinary convergences, but still was describes as a "bright red dot".

WILL WE SEE MARS AS BIG AS THE MOON? 

Unfortunately, no. We won’t see Mars as big as the moon. When Mars appears side by side with a full moon in the sky, Mars' diameter appears on average 1/140 of the diameter of the full moon. On August 27, 2020, or on any other date, Mars will not look as big from Earth as the full moon looks.

Mars is about twice the size of the Moon. In this case, in order to appear as big as the Moon in the sky, it must be approximately 766 thousand km away from us. As far as the orbital mechanics of the solar system goes, it is impossible for Mars to come this close to us. Even if Mars were as close to Earth as the Moon would seem, the gravitational force would change the Earth's orbit, and this would create terrible tides; it would basically bring the end of the world.

HOW CLOSE WILL MARS BE TO EARTH?

The distance between Mars and Earth will decrease to 62.1 million km. We can say that the distance between the two planets is on average 225 million km. The orbits of Earth and Mars are not circular, but elliptical, and the distance between them is constantly changing, as the time the two planets take to complete a full orbit around the Sun are different. The 57.6 million km distance experienced on 31 July 2018 is not a common occurrence. (The closest Mars and Earth position, similar to the one on July 31, 2018, will occur in 2287) In 2003, Mars reached its closest position with the Earth in the last 60 thousand years at a distance of 55.6 million km.

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