skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Tuesday May 31st through Sunday June 5th.

The new moon for the month of June is on the night of Wednesday the 1st and we will see a waxing crescent moon in the west shortly after sunset for the remainder of the week.

If you happen to find yourself above the Arctic circle on June 1, you can catch a partial solar eclipse. Because we are getting close to the summer solstice, some of the locations will be seeing an eclipsed midnight sun hanging low on their northern horizon.

Saturn is still the main solar system object to see in the early evenings and is high in the south as the sky darkens after sunset. The rest of the naked-eye planets are still in the morning sky although Mercury, Mars and Venus are fairly low. Jupiter is higher and is rising at 4:15 a.m. at midweek.

Last week, controllers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory sent the last recovery command to the Spirit rover, which was last heard from on March 22, 2010. Since there was no reply, the rover's mission is now at an end. Spirit's initial mission goal was to operate for 3 months, but it ended up working for over 6 years. Meanwhile, Spirit's twin, Opportunity, continues to operate on Mars on a part of the planet that is better for recharging the rover's solar panels. You can learn more about the missions and read the Spirit sign-off message from project manager John Callas at marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov

Summer viewing nights on the UT campus telescope will start next week, so please check back for details on starting dates and times.

Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers Report.