skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday May 6th through Sunday May 12th.

The moon is new on the night of Thursday the 9th so we will start the week with a waning crescent moon and finish with a waxing crescent moon.  If you recall, there was a lunar eclipse at the last full moon, so it is not unexpected that there will be a solar eclipse with this new moon. Unfortunately for those of us in Texas it won't be visible in the continental US, although Hawaii will see a partial eclipse. This solar eclipse is what is known as an annular eclipse, when the angular size of the moon isn't large enough to completely block the disk of the sun because the moon is at or close to its farthest point from the earth in its orbit. The full "ring of fire" effect of the eclipse will be visible through northern Australia, continue out to the southern end of Papua New Guinea and then on to the Solomon Islands, eventually ending over the southern Pacific.

Venus is getting higher in the evening skies and is now setting nearly an hour after the sun, so you might be able to see it if you have a good view of the western horizon.

Jupiter is still visible in the west-northwest after sunset and it setting at 10:30 p.m. at midweek. Saturn is up in the east-southeastern skies as darkness falls and is visible for nearly the rest of the night, setting at 6:20 a.m.

Mars is still emerging from conjunction with the sun and is lost in the sun's glare to telescope viewers. The conjunction interrupted communication with the various spacecraft on and around Mars, but all are now back in contact with Earth and transmitting data again.

Mercury is in superior conjunction with the sun on Saturday the 11th so it will pass behind the sun from the Earth's point of view.

Public viewing on UT campus telescopes is currently on hiatus between the spring semester and summer sessions. Viewing nights will resume in early June. Please check back for details on the starting dates and times.

Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers Report.