It's called Mars opposition, and the planet's peak brightness will linger for about a week. Being so close gives Mars a larger than typical angular size, so it looks bigger in a telescope and appears brighter in the sky. This is when observers will have their closest view of the red planet since 2003.
In this position [opposition], the Sun, Earth, and Mars form a straight line.
The last time these two events, a total lunar eclipse and the opposition of Mars, lined up was in the year 792. About half an hour later, Mars will rise in the same place and will be brighter than usual, as by chance, the planet will be closer to Earth than at any time during the past 15 years.
According to NASA, Mars Opposition begins Friday, July 27 around midnight. Saturn and its rings can be seen shining clearly in the new portrait, while the features of Mars are wreathed by a planet-encompassing dust storm.
At its closest point beginning Friday night, the Red Planet will be 35.8 million miles away but will remain at peak brightness through August 3.
Mars will be at its brightest Friday night due to an opposition surge that is affected by the planet's angle of the sun - giving you the clearest view of the Red Planet.
What is the best way to see Mars?
The cosmic coincidence which will see the 'God of War ' planet Mars shine in the sky during an eclipse has already got doomsday fans buzzing, but we're glad to report that it probably doesn't mean the apocalypse is nigh. With totality lasting for 103 minutes, it is the longest eclipse of the 21st century. There are plenty of live streams available online, including The Virtual Telescope Project live stream that will be broadcast from Rome starting at 6:30 p.m. on Friday.
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