Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for Monday May 19th through Monday 26th.
The moon is full in the early morning hours of Tuesday the 20th. This full moon occurs just a few hours before apogee – the moon’s farthest point from the earth in its orbit –, which makes this the smallest angular diameter full moon this year. The full moon for the month of May is known as the Flower Moon, the Milk Moon or the Corn Moon.
Mercury was at its greatest elongation last week, so we will now see it sinking a little lower each night. Mars is high in the west as the sky darkens and is setting at 1 a.m. this week. As a reminder, the Phoenix Mars lander is due to set down on the Red Planet this Sunday to study the north polar regions. You can learn more about the mission at phoenix.lpl.arizona.edu
Saturn is high in the southwest at sunset and is setting around 2:30 a.m. The Cassini Spacecraft, currently in orbit in the Saturnian system, continues to send back data and photographs of the planet, rings and moons. Check them out online at saturn.jpl.nasa.gov
Jupiter is now rising at right around midnight. Look for it to pair up with the moon in the early hours of the 24th. Venus is now very close to the sun, so is not easy to observe. However, the SOHO spacecraft’s coronagraph image can see Venus moving in close to the sun. As a bonus, you can currently also see the Pleiades star cluster in the images too. You can see this image and other solar observations at sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov or look for the link at the bottom of spaceweather.com
Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report and have a happy and safe Memorial Day weekend.