Two of the constellations of summer bookend the waxing Moon tonight. Sagittarius is to the left of the Moon at nightfall. Some of its bright stars form the shape of a teapot, with the Moon near the tip of the spout. Scorpius curls below and to the right of the Moon. The stars that mark the scorpion’s stinger are directly below the Moon, with the scorpion’s bright heart, the star Antares, well to the lower right of the Moon.
Tonight is known as International Observe-the-Moon Night. It’s an event started by NASA to draw attention to the Moon and the agency’s efforts to explore it. Hundreds of groups across the country and around the world organize special events — Moon-watching parties, lectures, workshops, and much more. We have a link to some listings on our web site.
NASA has grand plans for sending people and robots back to the Moon. Most of those plans are years behind schedule. Some of the automated probes, for example, were originally planned for launch as early as 2020. Technical issues, COVID, supply-chain bottlenecks, and other problems have slowed them down. So as things stand now, the first of the robotic missions won’t launch until late this year at the earliest. The others have been delayed to next year or beyond.
When they do get there, they’ll concentrate on finding water and other resources for future human explorers — people who will observe the Moon from close range.
Script by Damond Benningfield