Skywatchers Report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday April 29th through Sunday May 5th.

The new moon for the month of May is on Saturday the 4th so we'll have a waning crescent moon in our pre-dawn skies for most of the week and we'll start into the waxing crescent phase on Sunday.

Mars is still visible in the west at sundown and is setting at 11:15 p.m. this week. At right about the moment Mars is setting in the west, Jupiter is rising in the east as it moves towards opposition in a little over a month making it well-placed for summer viewing. Saturn is rising just a little after 1 a.m. at mid-week as it moves towards opposition in July.

Venus is rising at 5:30 a.m. this week. Look for a very thin crescent moon alongside Venus on Thursday morning. Mercury is rising just 45 minutes before the sun at midweek as it moves towards conjunction in a few weeks. A very, very thin crescent moon will be below Mercury shortly before dawn on Friday morning.

In space anniversaries this week, Saturday May the 4th marks 30 years since the Magellan spacecraft was released from the bay of the space shuttle Atlantis to begin its mission to map the planet Venus. Magellan entered orbit around Venus in August 1990 and mapped Venus for 4 years with its mission ending with a controlled descent through Venus' atmosphere in October 1994.

Public viewing at the 16-inch reflector on top of Robert Lee Moore Hall is on Wednesday nights currently from 8:30 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 currently from 8:30 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. Take the elevator to the 5th floor then take the stairs up to the 6th floor and follow the signs up to the telescope.

Next week will be the final week for public viewing on UT campus telescopes for the spring 2019 semester. Summer session viewing will start in early-to-mid June.

All events are free and open to all ages and no reservations are required. Note that viewing times and availability change throughout the year so please check the schedule before planning a visit. Observing events are weather permitting. Please call 512-232-4265 for weather cancellation information, which is updated 30 to 45 minutes before the scheduled viewing start time.

Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers Report.