skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday May 13th through Sunday June 2nd.

The moon is at first quarter on the night of May 17th, will be full on the night of May 24th and will be at third quarter on May 31st.

The full moon for the month of May is known as the Milk Moon, the Flower Moon, and the Corn Moon. This full moon will also have another lunar eclipse, but like with last month's this will be a penumbral eclipse and this one is very shallow so it will be all but impossible to detect. This full moon also occurs near perigee, so costal areas can expect large high tides around that time.

The second half of May will have an interesting convergence of three planets in the west shortly after sunset. Mercury and Venus are continuing to move away from the sun while Jupiter is sinking towards it, with all three meeting on Sunday the 26th in a tight triangle and forming a line on May 31st and into the first few days of June.

Mercury is setting only 10 minutes after the sun on the 13th, but will set nearly an hour after the sun on the 20th and will set an hour and a half after the sun on the 27th. Venus is climbing a little higher each night, but not as quickly as Mercury, so it will be setting about an hour after the sun for the remainder of the month. Jupiter, meanwhile, is setting at 10:20 p.m. on the 13th, at 10:00 p.m. on the 20th and at 9:40 p.m. on the 27th. 

Saturn is up in the east-southeast at sunset and is setting at 6:00 a.m. on the 13th, at 5:35 a.m. on the 20th, and at 5:05 a.m. on the 27th. Look for Saturn near the moon on Wednesday the 22nd.

Mars is still emerging from conjunction and is up just 20 minutes before the sun on the 13th and is up just 30 minutes before the sun on the 27th.

May 14th marks the 40th anniversary of the launch of the Skylab space station on a modified version of the Saturn V rocket that had sent the Apollo astronauts to the moon. The first crew for the station followed 11 days later on May 25th. They returned to earth on June 22nd making it the longest duration manned space mission at the time. The Skylab space station eventually re-entered the Earth's atmosphere in July 1979, crashing into Western Australia.

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.