Monday, August 25, 2008

Two Moons on August 27...NOT

No, Mars will not appear as big as the Full Moon on August 27, or August 26, or August 28, or September 26, or whatever date you may have heard. See this post from last year for a full discussion of this (non-)event, or this post from Phil Plait's Bad Astronomy on the latest variations on the online misinformation that will not go away.

Last year we had a special treat for folks who decided to check this out: anyone who looked at the Moon before they went to bed would see a big, bright, full Moon - but depending on where they lived, sometime the next morning they would see a bright red Moon-sized object in the sky! That was because we happened to have a full Lunar Eclipse that night, and the appearance of the eclipsed Moon could easily be conflated into a Moon-sized version of Mars.

Unfortunately, this year we don't get any such show. The Moon will be a waning crescent in the morning sky, and Mars will appear to be a brighter-than-average star in Virgo in the Western sky, setting not too long after sunset. But don't let that stop you from going outside and staring up into the magnificent, mysterious depths of the Universe! It's worth your while to do that any night, two Moons or none!

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