On the same date as the total lunar eclipse, Mars will seem to glide close to the moon just as it reaches its peak visibility for the year. The red planet will be at opposition, when it sits opposite to the sun in the sky, from our perspective. During opposition, Mars will look like a super-bright orange star in the southern sky.
Mars does not have a perfectly circular orbit around the sun, so the red planet gets nearer and farther from Earth over time. This year, Mars will be especially close to Earth shortly after opposition, coming within 35.8 million miles of us on July 31. This combination means that Mars will be at its biggest and brightest since 2003, and it won’t get this close to us again until 2035.
While the planet will look spectacular to the naked eye, people using backyard telescopes will have exceptional views of various Martian surface features, such as its white polar caps and dark volcanic plains.