Annual Mars Hoax is Resurfacing

The Mars hoax is back!
The Mars hoax is back!

An astronomy professor sent me the accompanying meme he recently received.  Dan added the “Not true!” headline, but the message at the bottom of the image is an edited yet recurring one since first gracing the internet in 2009.  It was false then and even more false today.

This year (2015) the planet Mars will be in the sky at 12:30, but it will be early in the afternoon, and the planet will be fairly close to the Sun.  So unless you have a telescope and know where to look, you won’t see the Red Planet at that time.  Thru a telescope it will look very small compared to the Moon.  It will not be the same size as the Moon in the sky.

If the 12:30 time is meant to be shortly after midnight, you have even less chance of seeing Mars, since that planet will be below the horizon.  Mars will rise about 5 in the morning and set around 7 in the evening.

The use of a full Moon in the illustration certainly makes the sight breathtaking, but I don’t know when the full moon would be so near the horizon at 12:30, either a.m. or p.m.  A full Moon would have to be on the opposite side of the celestial sphere from the sun, and at 12:30 the sun would be either close to the zenith or close to the nadir, but not on the horizon opposite the Moon

Why did someone post this?  Could it be from a misguided sense of helpfulness?  If it happened last August, it must happen again this August?

I’m interested in hearing possible reasons.

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