When August 27th rolls around each year, many are led to believe it is "Mars Hoax Day," a time of year when the red planet comes so close to Earth that it appears as large as the full moon in the night sky.
However, the hoax is just that. A hoax.
According to the legend, "Mars Hoax Day" first originated in a mass e-mail thread on Aug. 27, 2003. The widely circulated document promised that the view of Mars from Earth would be "spectacular" and a one-time deal to see the red planet up close and personal.
"The Red Planet is about to be spectacular," the e-mail said, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). "Earth is catching up with Mars [for] the closest approach between the two planets in recorded history. On August 27th ... Mars will look as large as the full moon."
However, in 2005, NASA debunked the rumors and laid out the facts in a post entitled, "Beware The Mars Hoax" back in 2005.
"Here are the facts: Earth and Mars are converging for a close encounter this year on October 30th at 0319 Universal Time," NASA wrote at the time. "Distance: 69 million kilometers. To the unaided eye, Mars will look like a bright red star, a pinprick of light, certainly not as wide as the full Moon."
If Mars were as close as the hoax e-mail, NASA said, it would alter Earth's natural orbit and raise "terrible tides."
NASA said, though, Mars will appear "brighter than anything else in the sky except the Sun, the Moon and Venus" from its distance on Aug. 27.
According to NASA, the email likely originated in 2003 when Mars appeared the closest in recorded history to Earth at 56 million km. Many misinterpreted that since it was the closest encounter to Earth in 60,000 years, Mars would appear as large as the moon.
Ever since the hoax e-mail in 2003, many over the years have been tricked into believing Mars can be as large as the moon in the night sky.
However, the closest the red planet appeared to Earth this year was on March 5, 2012 at 62 million km, according to Astronomy.org.
While many could be disappointed about "Mars Hoax Day," there have been major strides this year on the red planet. Earlier in August, the NASA Curiosity rover successfully landed on Mars followed by a release of a high-resolution video of the descent to the Gale Crater taken by the MARDI descent imager. Along with the video, the Curiosity rover snapped a plethora of photos of Mars which have been shared on the NASA website.