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Myth Debunked: Does Mars ever appear as big as the moon?

A comparison of the size of earth and Mars. Credit: NASA

A comparison of the size of earth and Mars. Credit: NASA

Mars is one of the smaller planets in the solar system, with its diameter measuring around 6,700km at the equator. The distance of Mars from earth varies considerably depending on the positions of the planets in their orbit around the sun. Mars can be as far away as 401 million kilometres from earth, but as close as 54 million kilometres on closest approach.

However, even at closest approach, Mars will only ever be a bright red dot in the earth’s night sky. Through telescopes, the change in size as the planet gets closer is apparent, but even at its closest, Mars is only a tiny dot in comparison to the moon. The moon is smaller than Mars, with a diameter of around 3,400km. However, the moon is much closer to earth than Mars, never further away than around 400,000km and 350,000km away at its closest. This means that the apparent size of the Moon from earth will always be much, much larger than that of Mars.

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