Did NASA have a distinct word to describe what the Apollo astronauts saw when they looked at out at the stars, when traveling between the Earth and the Moon? Sky does not seem right, as that word implies standing on an astronomical body.

Someone in English Language & Usage.SE suggested I ask here after the best answer, celestial sphere, was felt to be too formal and sounding like something from an ancient culture.

I'm avoiding words like firmament, heavens, vault, canopy. I'm hoping for a word that might be heard in casual conversation, or at least has a contemporary feel to it.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ More words: starfield, starscape, the expanse, deep space $\endgroup$ May 15, 2019 at 21:35
  • $\begingroup$ @CourageousPotato Thanks. Those do have a contemporary feel, but not quite one of a casual conversation. $\endgroup$
    – Bob516
    May 16, 2019 at 17:09

1 Answer 1


In his memoir "Liftoff", Michael Collins (Command Module pilot on Apollo 11) called it the sky.

It is a quiet interval and we get a chance to examine our surroundings, this strange region called cislunar space. Is it daylight? Yes, the sun is definitely shining on us. Is it dark? Yes, if we shielded our eyes from the sun, the sky is flat black except for faint pinpoints of starlight.

(Emphasis mine).

Source: Liftoff, Michael Collins, first edition 1988, p. 5


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