See the launch of NASA’s new mission to orbit the moon as the summer stars rise: what you can see in the night sky this week

This week is the first quarter of the moon.

Universal Image Group via Getty Images

Every Monday I pick the most prominent celestial points in the northern hemisphere (northern mid-latitudes) for next week, but be sure to check out my main channel for more detailed articles on stargazing, astronomy, eclipses and much more.

What to see in the night sky this week: June 6-12, 2022

This week is good to go look at the moon. With our natural satellite in outer space heading into its full “Strawberry Supermoon” phase next week, the night sky will be increasingly filled with Moon. Although glare will worsen as the week progresses, try placing binoculars on the lunar surface to see its craters and ancient, dark lava fields, called mares.

Moonway orbiting Gateway illustration with contributions from international partners.


Monday, June 6, 2022: NASA’s CAPSTONE mission could be launched

Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket launch window opens today, which will send NASA’s CST lunar autonomous positioning system (CAPSTONE) navigation and technology operations experiment to orbit the moon.

Launched from the Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand, CAPSTONE will test the stability of a new orbit around the Moon (an almost rectilinear halo orbit, if you will) that NASA wants to use for its Lunar Gateway space station.

Tuesday, June 7, 2022: First Quarter Moon and SpaceX launch on the ISS

Tonight is the last quarter of the moon, when the moon is half lit and rises after midnight. The scheduled launch at 11:25 a.m. EDT today from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, is the SpaceX Dragon CRS-25 cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS).

Thursday, June 9, 2022: The Moon and Spica


Thursday, June 9, 2022: The Moon and Spica

Tonight in the southern sky, at nightfall, you will see a 75% illuminated moon just 5ยบ from Spica, the brightest star in the constellation of the Virgin. Spica is the 16th brightest star and about 260 light-years away.

Sunday, June 12, 2022: The Moon and Antares

An almost 97% full moon will shine tonight just above the bright star Antares in the constellation Scorpio. A red supergiant star and the 15th brightest star visible, Antares is 555 light-years away. It is located just above the bright center of our Milky Way galaxy (although with such a bright moon it will be hard for you to find it even if you are under a dark sky).

The star map of the summer triangle in the northern hemisphere


Constellation of the week: Lyra, the harp

This small diamond-shaped constellation is home to Vega, the star by which all others are judged. The fifth brightest star in the night sky and about 25 light-years away, this blue star is a measure of the apparent magnitude, or brightness, of stars. If a star is fainter than Vega, it gets a number (+), and if it is brighter than Vega, it gets a number (-).

Along with Deneb in Cygnus and Altair in Aquila, Vega helps form the “Summer Triangle,” a seasonal asterism (a recognizable shape, not an official constellation) that rises in late spring and approaches autumn. Watch the Summer Triangle move higher every night for the next few months, and you’ll have an anchor in the summer night sky for the rest of your life.

I wish you clear skies and wide eyes.

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