Watch another rocket launch (and take in some other heavenly sights) this week

Depending on where you are in the D.C. area, you might be able watch the rocket carrying a Cygnus cargo ship ascend with your own eyes. (Courtesy Northrup Grumman)

NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility is scheduled to launch a rocket that will be visible around D.C. as it climbs into the sky Tuesday.

The facility hopes to launch the 16th Northrop Grumman resupply mission to the International Space Station at 5:56 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. The Cygnus cargo ship is the S.S. Ellison Onizuka, named for the first Asian-American selected as an astronaut.

NASA will carry the launch live starting at 5:30 p.m.

Depending on where you are in the D.C. area, you might be able watch the rocket ascend with your own eyes. The visibility map covers quite a bit of territory.

NASA will post launch updates on the Wallops Flight Facility’s Twitter feed and its Facebook page.

Weather prospects are currently 80% for launch and seeing the rocket ascend into the sky.

Try to find an open area free of trees and buildings for the best chance of watching the launch. Once you have spotted it, try taking a peek through binoculars for a closer view.

By the way, after sunset, look in the west to see the beautiful grouping of the young waxing crescent moon and Venus. Bright Jupiter — with dimmer Saturn to the right — will be visible in the southeast when it gets dark.

The Perseid meteor shower peaks this week on the night of Aug. 11 and possibly the night of Aug. 12. Don’t miss out on what is expected to be a great sky show. Getting to a dark location with an open view of the sky works best.

Follow my Twitter feed (@SkyGuyinVA) and my daily blog to keep up with the latest news in astronomy and space exploration. You can email me at

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