FACT CHECK:   Will 37 duplicate versions of the moon appear in the sky on 5 September 2015?

Claim:   The sight of 37 duplicate versions of the moon will appear in the sky on 5 September 2015.

   FALSE

Example:     [Collected via email, August 2015]

Origins:    Mid-August 2015 saw the circulation of the meme displayed above, one reporting that the moon will “inexplicably duplicate 37 times and will be visible from Earth” on 5 September 2015, an event that will not recur until the year 2274.

This is one of those items that even we didn’t think would require debunking, but so many readers have since inquired about it that we have to take a stab at explaining it:

  1. The moon is not going to “duplicate” (neither once nor thirty-seven times) on 5 September 2015, nor on any other date.
  2. The moon — the single moon we actually have, that is — is always visible from Earth, save for when it is in the phase known as a “new moon” (i.e., when the moon and the sun have the same ecliptical longitude and the moon is therefore too close to the sun’s glare to be visible from Earth).
  3. The described event has never happened before and is never going to happen in the future, therefore it will not “happen again” in 2274 (or any other year).
  4. This item is merely a parody of the “Mars Spectacular” piece that began circulating in 2003, presenting the true claim that Mars was going to pass remarkably close to Earth on 27 August 2003 along with a number of exaggerated claims, chief among them that Mars would appear as large and bright as the moon in the night sky on that date.

    The “Mars Spectacular” piece has been been recirculated online every August since then, even though it is now long since out of date, and even though many of its attendant claims were never true to begin with.

Last updated:      17 August 2015

Originally published:    17 August 2015