Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for Monday June 18th through Sunday the 24th.
The moon is at first quarter on Friday, so we can watch the moon grow from a slim crescent at the beginning of the week to half-lit by Friday and then to gibbous by the end of the week.
There is still a line of planets visible in the west, although Mercury is sinking very low as it moves to conjunction at the end of the month. Venus is still spectacularly bright in the west and Saturn is fainter, but still easy to spot, above and to Venus’ left. On Monday, the crescent moon will be between Venus and Saturn. Further above Saturn and to the left, forming a line with the moon and two planets, is the star Regulus, the brightest of the constellation of Leo the Lion. On Tuesday, the moon will move in front of Regulus in an occultation, which will be visible here in Texas. Regulus will appear from behind the moon a little before 11 p.m. Jupiter is the bright object visible in the southeast as the sky darkens. Look for the reddish-orange star Antares to Jupiter’s right.
The summer solstice occurs a little after one in the afternoon on Thursday the 21st. This is the day that the sun reaches its farthest point north of the celestial equator and for those of us here in the northern hemisphere it marks the longest day of the year and the beginning of summer. For our friends in the southern hemisphere this is the shortest day and is the beginning of winter.
Public viewing at the 16-inch reflector on top of Robert Lee Moore Hall is on Wednesday nights from 9 to 10:30 p.m. 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 to 10:30 p.m. Painter Hall is located on 24th street about halfway between Speedway and Guadalupe and is northeast of the UT Tower.
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 232-4265 for weather cancellation information, which is updated 30 to 60 minutes before viewing start time on nights when public viewing is cancelled.
Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report.