Mars is set for a close encounter with Earth, approaching to within 69.4 million km (43.1 million miles) of our planet in the early hours of Sunday.
With good conditions and a lack of cloud, amateur astronomers will be able to get an unusually good look at Mars.
The Red Planet will not swing this close to Earth for another 13 years.
Small telescopes will be able to see Mars as a brilliant ball; observers with more powerful instruments will be able to see features on the surface.
In August 2003, the Red Planet made an even closer approach to Earth, when it was at its nearest for about 60,000 years at a distance of 55.6 million km (34.6 million miles).
But Mars will be higher in the sky than it was in 2003, meaning that the planet’s light will not be affected as much by the Earth’s atmosphere. This will make for better viewing in the northern hemisphere.
“In the UK you will get a clearer view than you did a couple of years ago,” Peter Bond, of the Royal Astronomical Society told the BBC News website.
“If you are in the southern hemisphere, say Australia, Mars will be very low in the sky. It’s better for us in the northern hemisphere.”
He added that the best views of the Red Planet would be found out in the countryside, away from street lights.
“Anywhere you have a clear horizon – away from hills and lights – you should get a good view,” he said.
“As long as there is a clear sky there should be no problem.”
Through small and medium-sized telescopes, Mars will appear as a small, luminous ball in the east before midnight.
Mr Bond said it will reach its highest point in the sky after midnight, then set in the west.
He added that amateur astronomers might be able to see Syrtis Major, a dark, triangular patch on the Martian surface near the equator. The planet’s southern polar cap might also be visible through telescopes.
But Mars is also going through its southern summer, with an accompanying increased risk of dust storms. This means surface features could be blotted out.
Mars will continue to be particularly bright for the next month.
It reaches opposition – when it is directly opposite the Sun in the sky – at 0820 GMT on 7 November. Mars will then rise in the east at sunset, reaching its highest position in the sky an hour after midnight.
Earth and Mars are separated by an average distance of 225 million km (140 million miles).