skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for Monday June 2nd through Sunday June 8th.

The new moon for the month of June is on Tuesday the 3rd, so after that day we will see a waxing crescent moon in the west after sunset. Mercury will be just a few degrees from the moon on Wednesday, but they will both only be about 6 degrees from the sun, so will be difficult to observe. Mercury will continue to move closer to the sun until it passes from our evening skies to our morning skies at the end of the week. Venus is about one a half degrees from the sun at the beginning of this week and will pass behind it from Earth’s vantage point next week.

Saturn is high in the southwest during evening twilight and sets at 1:30 a.m. Mars is a little lower in the west and is setting at 12:30 a.m. Mars and the crescent moon will pair up on the night of the 7th and the moon will cluster with Saturn and the star Regulus on Sunday night. Jupiter is rising at 11 p.m. and is visible the rest of the night.

The space shuttle Discovery launched on schedule over the weekend on a mission to deliver another part of the Japanese Kibo module to the International Space Station. The two will dock Monday afternoon. If you want to try to see the station yourself, log on to heavens-above.com and select your location to generate a chart of passes for your locale.

During its first week on Mars, the Phoenix Lander deployed its robotic arm and took a look at the ground underneath the spacecraft. Because the lander set down with thrusters, like the Viking Landers of the 1970s, it blew away the top layer of regolith as it set down. When the arm peeked under the lander, it photographed what appears to be a layer of ice that was exposed after its covering of regolith was blown off. The robotic arm also took its first test scoop of Martian soil over the weekend. You can follow the mission online at phoenix.lpl.arizona.edu and the Phoenix pages at nasa.gov.

Summer public viewing will resume next week. Please call back next week for full details.

Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report.