When it comes to Internet hoaxes, the sky's not the limit. In fact, space is now a popular topic for these foolish postulations, and the space hoax du jour — or perhaps more accurately de la nuit — involves our famous red neighbor, Mars.

The "Mars Hoax" claims that on the night of Aug. 27, Mars will appear as large as the moon in the sky. Sorry, stargazers, but this isn't the case; it's a concept that the Internet won't let die. A message dubbed the "Mars Spectacular" email has been circulating since 2003, making claims about Mars's appearance in the sky. Variations on the email's content have appeared and been widely shared around the Web, on Facebook and other social media.

The writer of the original email is unknown. (One theory is that the writer was an enthusiast who was simply trying to generate interest in amateur astronomy.) A closer look at the email shows the writer is not entirely at fault for the misinformation. The email claims that with a "modest 75-power modification," Mars would look as big as the moon. The excerpt reads:

"The encounter will culminate on August 27th when Mars comes to within 34,649,589 miles (55,763,108 km) of Earth and will be (next to the moon) the brightest object in the night sky. It will attain a magnitude of –2.9 and will appear 25.11 arc seconds wide. At a modest 75-power magnification, Mars will look as large as the full moon to the naked eye."

So it would seem that the wording and poor reading comprehension are to blame. The assumption was made, and then widely spread, that Mars would look as large and nearly as bright as the moon. Readers and re-sharers neglected to take the 75-power modification to heart, and the assumption became that Mars would look as big as the moon without any amplification at all — but no dice. Even though this false theory has been debunked many times over the years, the Mars Hoax has uncanny staying power. It's a safe bet that 2015 isn't the last time we'll be talking about the appearance of a super-Mars.

Land of exaggeration

This isn’t the only hoax linked to the Red Planet. There have always been outlandish theories about Mars, but the pace of them has quickened since the Mars rovers began snapping photos of the planet. For example, there is no evidence of an alien woman on Mars. An Imperial-class Star Destroyer from "Star Wars" did not crash-land on the Red Planet, and there are no pyramids on Mars either. And no crabs. But on the bright side, there might be water on Mars, and that news is splashier than any Internet hoax.

Don't fall for the 'Mars Hoax' tonight
A misread 2003 email has lead to an annual misconception about Mars's size in the night sky.