Space calendar

JULY

July 11: Virgin Galactic will launch its first fully crewed spaceflight on its VSS Unity space plane, with the company’s founder Richard Branson on board. The global livestream of the event begins at 9 a.m. EDT (1300 GMT). Watch it live

July 12: Conjunction of the moon and Venus. The waxing crescent moon will pass about 3 degrees to the north of Venus.

July 20: Blue Origin will launch the first crewed spaceflight of its New Shepard rocket-capsule combo. Flying to space aboard the capsule will be the company’s CEO Jeff Bezos, his brother, an auction winner and ‘Mercury 13’ pilot Wally Funk. Watch it live

July 21: A Russian Proton rocket will launch the Nauka science module to the International Space Station from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, at 10:58 a.m. EDT (1458 GMT). Watch it live

July 23: The Progress 77 cargo craft will undock from the International Space Station, carrying with it the decommissioned Pirs docking component. Undocking is scheduled for 9:17 a.m. EDT (1317 GMT). Watch it live

July 23: The full moon of July, known as the Full Buck Moon, arrives at 10:37 p.m. EDT (0237 July 24 GMT).

July 24: Conjunction of the moon and Saturn. The full moon will swing about 4 degrees to the south of Saturn in the dawn sky.

July 25: Conjunction of the moon and Jupiter. The waning crescent moon will swing about 4 degrees to the south of Jupiter in the dawn sky.

July 27: Arianespace will use an Ariane 5 ECA rocket, designated VA254, to launch the Star One D2 and Eutelsat Quantum communications satellites from the Guiana Spaceport near Kourou, French Guiana. Watch it live

July 29: Russia’s new Nauka module will dock with the International Space Station at 9:25 a.m. EDT (1325 GMT). Watch it live

July 30: Starliner OFT-2: A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket will launch Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft on its second uncrewed mission to the International Space Station, following a partial failure in December 2019. The Orbital Flight Test 2 (OFT-2) mission will lift off from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, at 2:53 p.m. EDT (1853 GMT). Watch it live

Also scheduled to launch in July (from Spaceflight Now):
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch another batch of Starlink internet satellites from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

AUGUST

Aug. 1: A Northrop Grumman Antares rocket will launch the Cygnus NG-16 cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station. It will lift off from Pad 0A at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Virginia. Watch it live

Aug. 2: Arianespace will use a Soyuz rocket to launch 34 satellites into orbit for the OneWeb internet constellation. The mission, called OneWeb 9, will lift off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Watch it live

Aug. 2: Saturn at opposition. The ringed planet will be directly opposite the sun in Earth’s sky around the same time that it makes its closest approach to Earth all year. This means it will appear at its biggest and brightest of the year. Saturn will reach its highest point in the night sky around midnight.

Aug. 8: The new moon arrives at 9:50 a.m. EDT (1350 GMT)

Aug. 11: Conjunction of the moon and Venus. The waxing crescent moon will pass about 4 degrees to the north of Venus. Look for the pair above the western horizon after sunset.

Aug. 11-12: The annual Perseid meteor shower, which is active from mid-July to the end of August, peaks overnight.

Aug. 18: A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch a Dragon cargo resupply mission (CRS-23) to the International Space Station. It will lift off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Watch it live

Aug. 19: Jupiter at opposition. The gas giant will be directly opposite the sun in Earth’s sky around the same time that it makes its closest approach to Earth of the year. The planet will shine at its biggest and brightest tonight and will be visible all night long.

Aug. 20: Conjunction of the moon and Saturn. The waxing gibbous moon will swing about 3 degrees to the south of Saturn in the evening sky.

Aug. 22: The full moon of August, known as the Full Sturgeon Moon, occurs at 8:02 a.m. EDT (1202 GMT). This will also be a so-called “Blue Moon” because it is the third full moon in a season that has four full moons.

Aug. 22: Conjunction of the moon and Jupiter. The Blue Sturgeon moon will swing about 4 degrees to the south of Jupiter in the night sky.

Aug. 26: Arianespace will use a Soyuz rocket to launch 34 satellites into orbit for the OneWeb internet constellation. The mission, called OneWeb 10, will lift off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Watch it live

Also scheduled to launch in August (from Spaceflight Now):
– An Arianespace Vega rocket, designated VV19, will launch the Pléiades Neo 4 Earth observation satellite for Airbus. The mission will lift off from the Guiana Spaceport near Kourou, French Guiana. Watch it live

SEPTEMBER

Sept. 3: Mercury reaches its highest point in the evening sky. Shining at magnitude 0.1, the innermost planet will be barely visible above the western horizon at sunset.

Sept. 6: The new moon arrives at 8:52 p.m. EDT (0052 Sept. 7 GMT).

Sept. 9: Conjunction of the moon and Venus. The waxing crescent moon will pass about 4 degrees to the north of Venus. Look for the pair above the western horizon after sunset.

Sept. 13: Mercury at greatest elongation east. The innermost planet will reach its greatest eastern separation from the sun, shining brightly at magnitude 0.1. Catch the elusive planet above the western horizon shortly after sunset.

Sept. 14: Neptune at opposition. The gas giant will appear at its biggest and brightest of the year, shining at magnitude 7.8. (You’ll need a telescope to see it.)

Sept. 15: SpaceX will use a Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft to launch the first all-civilian orbital mission, known as Inspiration4. It will lift off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Watch it live

Sept. 16: A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket will launch the NASA/USGS Landsat 9 satellite from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

Sept. 16: Conjunction of the moon and Saturn. The waxing gibbous moon will swing about 3 degrees to the south of Saturn in the evening sky.

Sept. 18: Conjunction of the moon and Jupiter. The waxing gibbous moon will swing about 4 degrees to the south of Jupiter in the evening sky.

Sept. 18: Arianespace will use a Soyuz rocket to launch 34 satellites into orbit for the OneWeb internet constellation. The mission, called OneWeb 11, will lift off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Watch it live

Sept. 20: The full moon of September, known as the Full Harvest Moon, occurs at 7:55 p.m. EDT (2355 GMT).

Sept. 22: The equinox arrives at 3:21 p.m. EDT (1921 GMT), marking the first day of autumn in the Northern Hemisphere and the first day of spring in the Southern Hemisphere.

Sept. 24: The waning gibbous moon and Uranus will make a close approach, passing within 1.3 degrees of each other. Shining at magnitude 5.7, Uranus may be bright enough to spot with the naked eye under dark skies.

Also scheduled to launch in September (from Spaceflight Now):
– China will launch the Tianzhou 3 cargo resupply ship to the Chinese space station. It will lift off on a Long March 7 rocket from the
– A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket will launch the USSF-8 mission for the Space Force’s Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program (GSSAP). It will lift off from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Watch it live
– Arianespace will use an Ariane 5 ECA rocket to launch the SES-17 and Syracuse 4A communications satellites from the Guiana Space Center near Kourou, French Guiana.

OCTOBER

Oct. 5: A Russian Soyuz rocket will launch the Soyuz MS-19 crew capsule to the International Space Station with Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov and two space tourists: Russian film director Klim Shipenko and a (not-yet-named) Russian actress, who plan to film a movie while spending one week in space. (The two filmmakers are scheduled to return to Earth on the Soyuz MS-18 crew capsule.) Watch it live

Oct. 6: The new moon arrives at 7:05 a.m. EDT (1105 GMT)

Oct. 8: The Draconid meteor shower, which is active Oct. 6-10, will peak overnight.

Oct. 9: Conjunction of the moon and Venus. The waxing crescent moon will pass about 3 degrees to the north of Venus. Look for the pair above the western horizon after sunset.

Oct. 14: Conjunction of the moon and Saturn. The waxing gibbous moon will swing about 4 degrees to the south of Saturn in the evening sky.

Oct. 15: Conjunction of the moon and Jupiter. The waxing gibbous moon will swing about 4 degrees to the south of Jupiter in the evening sky.

Oct. 16: NASA will launch its Lucy mission to study the Trojan asteroids. It will lift off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. Watch it live

Oct. 20: A Rocket Lab Electron rocket will launch NASA’s Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) mission to the moon from Wallops Island, Virginia.

Oct. 20: The full moon of October, known as the Full Hunter’s Moon, occurs at 10:57 a.m. EDT (1457 GMT).

Oct. 21: The waning gibbous moon and Uranus will make a close approach, passing within 1.3 degrees of each other. Shining at magnitude 5.7, Uranus may be bright enough to spot with the naked eye under dark skies.

Oct. 21-22: The annual Orionid meteor shower, which is active all month long, peaks overnight.

Oct. 23: A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch a Crew Dragon spacecraft on the Crew-3 mission, the third operational astronaut flight to the International Space Station. On board will be NASA astronauts Raja Chari and Thomas Marshburn, and European Space Agency astronaut Matthias Maurer. (The fourth crewmember has not yet been announced). It will lift off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Watch it live

Oct. 24: Mercury at greatest elongation west. The innermost planet will reach its greatest western separation from the sun, shining brightly at magnitude -0.6. Catch the elusive planet above the eastern horizon shortly before sunrise. The following day (Oct. 25) Mercury will reach its highest point in the morning sky.

Oct. 28: A Russian Soyuz rocket will launch the Progress 79 cargo resupply spacecraft to the International Space Station. It will lift off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Watch it live

Oct. 31: NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is scheduled to lift off from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana, on an Ariane 5 ECA rocket. Watch it live

Also scheduled to launch in October (from Spaceflight Now):
– China will launch three astronauts to the Chinese space station on the Shenzhou 13 mission, which will launch on a Long March 2F rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert.
– A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket will launch the USSF-44 mission for the U.S. Air Force. The mission will lift off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and is expected to deploy two undisclosed payloads into geosynchronous orbit. Watch it live
– The Soyuz MS-18 crew capsule will return to Earth from the International Space Station with Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky, as well as two space tourists: Russian film director Klim Shipenko and a (not-yet-named) Russian actress, who will have arrived on the Soyuz MS-19 mission in September and plan to film a movie in space. Watch it live
– Arianespace will use a Soyuz rocket to launch 34 satellites into orbit for the OneWeb internet constellation. The mission, called OneWeb 12, will lift off from the Guiana Space Center near Kourou, French Guiana. Watch it live

NOVEMBER

Nov. 2-3: The annual South Taurid meteor shower peaks overnight. Active from mid-September to mid-November, the Southern Taurids rarely produce more than five visible meteors per hour, but the nearly-new moon should make them easier to spot against a dark sky.

Nov. 4: The new moon arrives at 5:15 p.m. EDT (2115 GMT).

Nov. 4: Uranus is at opposition, meaning it will appear at its biggest and brightest of the year. Shining at magnitude 5.7, the planet will be visible all night long in the constellation Aries. Uranus may be to the naked eye from dark locations but is best seen through a telescope or binoculars.

Nov. 7: Daylight Saving Time ends. Turn your clocks back one hour at 2 a.m. local time.

Nov. 8: Conjunction of the moon and Venus. The waxing crescent moon will pass about 1 degree to the north of Venus. Look for the pair above the western horizon after sunset. Skywatchers in parts of Eastern Asia will see the moon occult Venus, meaning it will briefly pass in front of the planet, blocking it from sight.

Nov. 10: Conjunction of the moon and Saturn. The waxing crescent moon will swing about 4 degrees to the south of Saturn in the evening sky.

Nov. 11: Conjunction of the moon and Jupiter. The first-quarter moon will swing about 4 degrees to the south of Jupiter in the evening sky.

Nov. 11-12: The annual North Taurid meteor shower peaks overnight. The shower, which is active from late October to mid-December, is not expected to produce more than a handful of visible “shooting stars” per hour.

Nov. 16-17: One of the most anticipated meteor showers of the year, the Leonid meteor shower peaks overnight. The Leonids are expected to produce about 15 meteors per hour on the night of the peak, but the shower is active all month long.

Nov. 17: A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the NASA’s Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Watch it live

Nov. 19: The full moon of November, known as the Full Beaver Moon, occurs at 3:58 a.m. EST (0858 GMT).

Nov. 19: A partial lunar eclipse will be visible from North and South America, Australia, and parts of Europe and Asia. The moon will enter Earth’s faint outer shadow, known as the penumbra, at 1:02 a.m. EDT (0602 GMT). The partial eclipse, when the moon will darken more noticeably, begins at 2:18 a.m. EDT (0718 GMT). Maximum eclipse occurs at 4:02 a.m. EDT (0902 GMT). The entire event will last about six hours.

Nov. 24: A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Watch it live

Also scheduled to launch in November (from Spaceflight Now):
– An Arianespace Soyuz rocket will launch two satellites for Europe’s Galileo navigation constellation. It will lift off from the Guiana Space Center near Kourou, French Guiana.

DECEMBER

Dec. 4: The only total solar eclipse of the year (and the last total solar eclipse until 2023) will be visible from Antarctica. Skywatchers in South Africa, Namibia, the southern tip of South America and some islands in the South Atlantic will be able to see at least a partial solar eclipse, with the moon blocking a portion of the sun from view.

Dec. 4: The new moon arrives at 2:44 a.m. EST (0744 GMT).

Dec. 4: A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch a Dragon cargo resupply mission (CRS-24) to the International Space Station. It will lift off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Watch it live

Dec. 6: Conjunction of the moon and Venus. The waxing crescent moon will pass about 2 degrees to the north of Venus. Look for the pair above the western horizon after sunset.

Dec. 7: A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket will launch the GOES-T weather satellite for NASA and NOAA. It will lift off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, at 4:40 p.m. EST (2140 GMT). Watch it live

Dec. 7: Conjunction of the moon and Saturn. The waxing crescent moon will swing about 4 degrees to the south of Saturn in the evening sky.

Dec. 8: A Russian Soyuz rocket will launch the Soyuz MS-20 crew capsule to the International Space Station with Russian cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin, Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa and video producer Yozo Hirano. Watch it live

Dec. 9: Conjunction of the moon and Jupiter. The waxing crescent moon will swing about 4 degrees to the south of Jupiter in the evening sky.

Dec. 13-14: The annual Geminid meteor shower, one of the best meteor showers of the year, peaks overnight. The Geminids are active Dec. 4-17 often produce up to 50 visible meteors per hours, but this year the 78% full moon will outshine the fainter meteors.

Dec. 18: The full moon of December, known as the Full Cold Moon, occurs at 11:37 p.m. EST (0437 Dec. 19 GMT).

Dec. 21: The solstice arrives at 10:59 a.m. EST (1559 GMT), marking the first day of winter in the Northern Hemisphere and the first day of summer in the Southern Hemisphere.

Dec. 21-22: The annual Ursid meteor shower peaks overnight. Typically active around Dec. 17-26, the Ursids produce about five to 10 visible meteors per hour on the morning of the peak.

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