skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday June 17th through Sunday June 23rd.

The full moon for the month of June is on Sunday morning so we will have a waxing gibbous moon in our skies for almost all of this week. The full moon of June is known as the Flower Moon, the Strawberry Moon, the Rose Moon, and the Honey Moon. This full moon occurs very close to perigee, the moon's closest point to the earth in its orbit, making this the largest full moon of the year.

The summer solstice for the northern hemisphere (and winter solstice for the southern) occurs just after midnight on the 21st for the US central time zone. This point marks the longest amount of daylight for the northern hemisphere and shortest for the southern.

Jupiter is in conjunction with the Sun on Wednesday the 19th so it is no longer visible. Mercury and Venus are still close to one another in the west-northwest after sunset and will be separated by a little less than two degrees on Thursday the 20th. The pair will set at 10:10 p.m. that evening. Saturn is high in the south as night falls this week and is setting at 3:30 a.m. Mars is up at 5:30 a.m., about an hour before sunrise.

In space anniversaries this week - 30 years ago on Tuesday, Sally Ride became the first American woman in space on board the Space Shuttle flight STS-7. And this Saturday marks the 35th anniversary of the discovery of Pluto's moon Charon, by James Christy at the US Naval Observatory at Flagstaff. The New Horizons spacecraft will fly past Pluto and its moons in July 2015.

Public viewing at the 16-inch reflector on top of Robert Lee Moore Hall is on Wednesday nights from 9:00 to 10:30 p.m. this summer. RLM is located on the southeast corner of Dean Keeton and Speedway. Take the elevator to the 17th floor and follow the signs to the telescope.

Public viewing at the 9-inch refractor at Painter Hall is on Friday and Saturday nights from 9:00 to 10:30 p.m. this summer. Painter Hall is located on 24th street about halfway between Speedway and Guadalupe and is northeast of the UT Tower. To get to the telescope, take the elevator to the 5th floor and exit to the left. Follow the 5th floor hallway to the end and take the staircase through the double doors on the left. Once you reach the 6th floor, go to your right and follow the signs up to the telescope.

All events are free and open to all ages and no reservations are required. Note that viewing times and availability change throughout the year. Observing events are weather permitting. Please call 512-232-4265 for weather cancellation information, which is updated 30 to 60 minutes before the scheduled start time when a viewing is cancelled.

Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers Report.