skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday April 26th through Sunday May 2nd.

The full moon for the month of April occurs late on the night of Monday the 26th and then we’ll have a waning gibbous moon for the rest of the week. This full moon is known as the Egg Moon and the Grass Moon. This full moon occurs withing about 12 hours of perigee, the moon’s closest point the Earth in its orbit, so there will be especially large high tides that day.

Venus and Mercury are low in the west shortly after sunset and both are still emerging from conjunction. Venus is setting at 8:50 p.m. at midweek, about 40 minutes after the Sun. Mercury is setting at 9:10 p.m. at midweek, about an hour after the Sun.

Mars is up in the west at sundown and is setting a little after midnight this week.

Saturn is rising at 2:45 a.m. at midweek, followed by Jupiter at 3:30 a.m.

In space news from last week, which will no doubt become a future notable space anniversary, the Ingenuity helicopter performed its first flight on Mars and became the first powered controlled flight by an aircraft on another planet. In a nod to its predecessor, Ingenuity carries a small piece of fabric from the wing of the 1903 Wright Flyer, the first craft to perform a heavier-than-air controlled powered flight on Earth. As of this recording, Ingenuity has now performed three flights on Mars of increasing duration and distance.

All public viewing events on UT campus telescopes are on hold for the Spring 2021 semester. We will update the website outreach.as.utexas.edu with a new schedule when we are able to resume viewing.

While you’re waiting for in-person telescope viewing to resume, you can tune in to McDonald Observatory live streams from west Texas. You can view past events on the McDonald Observatory YouTube channel and you can follow the observatory on TwitterFacebook and at McDonaldObservatory.org to be notified of future events.

Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers Report.