Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for Monday 21st through Monday the 28th.
The moon is at first quarter on Wednesday the 23rd. Look for Saturn next to the moon on Tuesday. Observers in northern Europe and northwestern Canada will be able to see Saturn occulted by the moon.
Mercury is rising higher and higher in the evening skies each day this week, although because of its proximity to the sun, it never gets too far east or west in our skies. Venus is up higher in the west and is approximately at magnitude -4.2. If you have even a small telescope, be sure to take a look at Venus, which currently resembles the first quarter moon. Continuing up in the sky, you will next see Saturn which is now setting at around 1:30 a.m. Over in the east, Jupiter is rising at 9:15 at midweek. For the fifth of the naked-eye planets, you will have to wait until Mars rises at 3:45 a.m.
The Space Shuttle Atlantis was rolled out to the launch pad last week. The mission was originally supposed to launch a couple of months ago, but the external tank was damaged in a hail storm and had to be repaired. Now that the tank has been patched, the shuttle is set to launch in June. The mission will be a trip to the International Space Station to install a new truss section, add new solar arrays (as well as folding up an old one) and bring home astronaut Suni Williams, who has been aboard the space station since last December. You can learn more about the mission at www.nasa.gov
Public viewing for the summer will be starting in a couple of weeks. Please call back for the starting dates and times.
Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report and have a great Memorial Day weekend.