News & Politics

Look Up, DC: Catch a Rocket Launch and a Supermoon Tonight

The Antares rocket, launching from Wallops Island, Virginia, will be visible in the DC area.

Photograph by Ultima_Gaina/iStock/Getty Images Plus.

A rocket launch will be visible this evening, weather permitting, if you’re in the Washington, DC, area. NASA will cast the Antares rocket into the sky as part of Northrop Grumman’s 19th commercial resupply services mission. It will deliver “critical cargo, supplies, and experiments” to the astronauts aboard the International Space Station, the football field-sized spacecraft that orbits Earth. 

The rocket will leave Wallops Island, Virginia, at 8:31 PM. It should be visible from the Washington, DC, area a minute or so after takeoff, so 8:32 to 8:33.

Stargazing enthusiasts are welcome at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility Visitor Center, about three hours from downtown DC, for a live audio broadcast from Range Control and in-person viewing just seven miles from where the rocket will actually launch. Visitors are welcome from 5:30 to 9 PM. 

The official viewing locations are quite a distance from DC, but you can attend the launch virtually. Live coverage will begin at 8 PM. If you’re less into the detailed reports, just look up toward the southeastern sky at 8:32 PM.   

While you’re at it, check out the supermoon in the sky this evening. Some 16 percent brighter than a regular full moon, supermoons happen when the moon orbits closest to the Earth at the same time that it’s full. Tonight, it will appear larger than normal, especially during the moon rise around 8:50 PM. 

Essence Wiley
Editorial Fellow