Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for Monday May 17th through Tuesday June 1st.
The moon is at first quarter on Thursday the 20th and is full on Thursday the 27th. The full moon for the month of May is known as the Milk Moon, the Flower Moon and the Corn Moon.
Venus is hard to miss in the western skies after sunset and it is shining brightly at just under magnitude -4. Venus sets 10:45 on the 17th and is setting just after 11 p.m. on June 1st.
Mars is high in the west in the evening twilight and sets at 2 a.m. on May 18th and about 1:30 a.m. on June 1st. Look for Mars above the moon on the 19th and to the right of the first quarter moon on the 20th.
Saturn is high in the south on the 17th and sets a little before 4 a.m. on the 18th. The moon will be to the right of Saturn on the 21st and below Saturn on the 22nd. By June 1st Saturn will be setting at 3 a.m.
In the morning skies, Jupiter is rising at 3:45 a.m. on the 17th and is up by 2:45 a.m. on June 1st. Mercury is up at 5:35 a.m. on May 17th and reaches its greatest elongation west on Wednesday the 26th. On June 1st Mercury rises at 5:15 a.m.
This May is the 100th anniversary of the closest approach of Halley's Comet to in 1910, which included Earth passing through the comet's tail on May 18. There was a scare at the time because toxic cyanogen gas had been detected in the comet's tail but the gas was so diffuse that it would not be dangerous to people.
The space shuttle Atlantis lifted off on schedule on Friday the 14th on its final scheduled flight. Atlantis docked with the International Space Station on Sunday the 16th and the astronauts will perform three spacewalks during the mission to install a new antenna, the Russian-built Mini Research Module 1 and the Integrated Cargo Carrier. Atlantis is scheduled to land at the Kennedy Space Center on May 26th. You can watch the mission on NASA TV online at www.nasa.gov.
UT telescope public viewing has finished for the spring semester. Please call back after June 1st for the information on the summer dates and times.
Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report and have a happy and safe Memorial Day holiday.