Venus was the goddess of love, but Mars is the big cosmic tease.

No, the Red Planet will not appear as big as the full moon on Aug. 27.

Not even close.

Unless your flying saucer is parked a sun's diameter or two from its fourth planet.

Sillier still, Mars will not even be visible at night on that date.

So do not, NASA advises, believe "The Confusing-Email-About-Mars-You-Should-Delete-and-Not-Forward-to-Anyone-Except-Your-In-Laws."

Really, that was NASA's term.

Glad to know our well-endowed space program invents more than rocket fuel.

Anway, not even in 2003, when Mars was at its closest pass in 60,000 years, was it more than a rusty dot in the sky.

That's when the "Mars Misunderstanding" began, NASA says.

Especially when folks left off the part that said Mars would look moonlike if magnified 75 times by a telescope.

And even that's a goof, NASA alleges, because peering through a tube just isn't the same as using naked eyes to view the open sky.

Mars sure a rich history of fooling folks.

Canals! It has canals! Are they a sign of irrigating life?

Astronomer Percival Lowell championed the ditch-digger theory around the turn of the 20th century.

Alas, the "canals" were mostly a sign of really weak telescopes.

In 1938, Martians landed in New Jersey! America was under attack!At least that's what Orson Welles led thousands to believe with his infamous War of the Worlds Mischief Night radio show.

In 1976, the Viking 1 probe photographed a two-mile-wide "human face" on Mars!

The photo did suggest a giant mask.

But in 2001, NASA took better pictures, and the hilly feature looks more like, well, a hilly feature with cracks. Not eye sockets.

But NASA did find a crater that looks like a Smiley Face!

Maybe that's another sign.

A sign that Mars is laughing at us.

Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or pmucha@phillynews.com.