Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday April 20th through Sunday April 26th.
The new moon for the month of April is on the night of Wednesday the 22nd so we’ll start the week with a waning crescent moon and have a waxing crescent moon in our early evening skies for the second half of the week.
Venus is still shining brightly in the western skies at sunset. Look for Venus to pair up with the crescent moon on Sunday night.
In the morning skies, Jupiter is rising in at 2:05 a.m. at midweek, followed by Saturn at 2:25 a.m. Mars is rising almost an hour later at 3:20 a.m.
Mercury continues to move back towards the sun and its next conjunction and is rising at 6:25 a.m. at midweek, about half an hour before sunrise.
The Lyrid meteor shower peaks on Tuesday night into Wednesday morning and this year it won’t have any interference from moonlight. The Lyrids get their name because they appear to come from a point in the constellation Lyra, near the bright star Vega. The meteor shower is created by the Earth moving through the debris of Comet Thatcher and usually produces about 10-20 meteors an hour at its peak. The shower does occasionally have outbursts about every 60 years with the most recent being in 1982.
In space anniversaries this week, Friday April 24th marks the 30th anniversary of the launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery carrying the Hubble Space Telescope. The telescope was released from the cargo bay of the shuttle the following day. The flaw in the mirror was discovered about a month later and was corrected in December 1993 with the first HST Servicing Mission. The telescope continues to operate and could last another 10-20 years.
All public viewing events on UT campus telescopes are on hold for the time being. We will update the website outreach.as.utexas.edu with a new schedule when we are able to resume viewing.
Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers Report.