August 22, 2008
Abu Dhabi: Astronomers in the UAE rejected as false a rumour that the planet Mars will be very close to Earth on August 27 and will look like a second moon.
The Emirates Astronomical Society and the Islamic Moon Observatory Project described the theory carried by some prominent Arabic newspapers as "bad astronomy".
Several e-mails have also circulated in cyberspace, saying the planet Mars will be the brightest in the night sky and will look as large as a full moon to the naked eye on August 27, creating a rare opportunity to see two moons in the sky.
A senior official at the Emirates Astronomical Society and Chairman of the Islamic Moon Observatory Project. Mohammad Shoukat Oudha, said the rumour has been triggered by the fact that Mars becomes brighter every 780 days on its orbit between the sun and Earth.
Mars might appear brighter but it will not be larger than usual to the naked eye this year.
"By the will of God, this may happen in the year 2287 AD.
"Mars will appear in the sky as large as a full moon, giving mankind a feeling that Earth has two moons, one in the east and the other in the west," Oudha predicted.