Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for Monday May 14th through the 20th.
The moon is new on Wednesday the 16th. A one-day-old moon will be alongside Mercury, very low in the west on the 17th. On the 18th the moon will be between Mercury and Venus, which is still dominating the western skies after the sunsets. Be sure to look to the west as soon as the sky darkens on the 19th to see the crescent moon alongside Venus for a very picturesque pairing.
Saturn is high in the west at 9 p.m. and is setting at about 2 a.m. Jupiter is rising in the east-southeast at 9:30 p.m. at midweek. Look for the bright orange star Antares and its constellation Scorpius next to Jupiter. Mars is the only naked eye planet visible in the morning skies, rising at 4 a.m. Uranus and Neptune are also visible in the pre-dawn skies, but you’ll need telescopes to see them.
Another sign that we are getting into the summer months is the appearance in the evening skies of a trio of stars known as the Summer Triangle. The triangle consists of the three bright stars Vega in the constellation Lyra, Deneb in the constellation Cygnus and Altair in the constellation Aquila. Altair is the lowest of the trio to rise and is up in the east by a little after 11 p.m.
The next Mars lander arrived in Florida last week and it is scheduled to launch in August. The Phoenix Mars Mission will land in Mars’ arctic region and will study the ice-rich soil in that area. You can follow this mission and all the others currently studying the Red Planet at mars.jpl.nasa.gov
Public viewing is finished for the spring semester. Viewing will resume in June, so call back in a few weeks for the dates and times.
Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report.