WRAL WeatherCenter Blog

What's in the sky this week

Posted August 16, 2020 1:17 p.m. EDT
Updated August 17, 2020 10:24 a.m. EDT

RAW: SpaceX launch of 60 Starlink satellites

The typical August pattern of late evening thunderstorms moving through the area will make skywatching a bit challenging, but this week's New Moon will make those holes in the clouds even better.

Worth noting but not worth looking for, Tuesday's New Moon is also known as a black moon. This term is most often assigned to the second new Moon in a calendar month. But, like this month's new Moon, can refer to the third new Moon in a season with four new Moons.

Monday Aug 17

  • Mercury begins its shift from the morning sky to the evening sky as it passes behind the Sun, a position called superior conjunction. We'll begin seeing it emerge from the glow of dusk around August 29.

Tuesday Aug 18

  • 10:00 am Virtual Skywatching via Zoom: Tour the August Carolina Skies with Morehead Planetarium and Science Center educators. Learn how to identify planets and stars you can see from outside your own home on the next clear night.
  • 10:30 am: SpaceX plans the launch of another 58 Starlink satellites. You can watch the launch live on the SpaceX YouTube channel. Launch weather forecast looks promising with 70% go conditions forecasted. The launch opportunity the following day looks even better.
  • 6:00 pm Virtual Trivia Tuesday: NC Museum of Natural Sciences hosts this weekly trivia event featuring a mix of science facts, current news, pop culture and scientific discoveries. Free registration required.

Wednesday Aug 19

  • The seventh month of the lunisolar Chinese calendar begins at midnight in China's timezone.

Thursday Aug 20

Saturday Aug 22

  • 5:33 am: The International Space Station returns to the predawn skies rising from the south-southeast at 5:33 am setting two minutes later in the east-southeast. It will only reach 12 degrees above the horizon so many be blocked by trees or houses for you.
  • After dusk: the bright star. Spica appears just below the waxing crescent Moon.

the bright star Spica will be visible to the left of the waxing crescent Moon on Friday

Looking ahead

August 26, 1:30 am, United Launch Alliance plans the launch of NROL-44, a spy satellite for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office on a Delta IV Heavy rocket. Essentially 3 Delta IV rockets bolted together to give the payload the velocity needed to get into the proper orbit, these launches are pretty amazing, especially at night.

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