skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for Monday April 30th through Sunday May 6th.

The full moon for the month of May is in the morning of Wednesday the 2nd. The moon for May is known as the Planting Moon and the Milk Moon.

There are still several planets to see in the evening skies, with Venus shining brightly in the west, currently at magnitude -4.1. Saturn is high in the southwest at sundown and sets at three in the morning. Jupiter is rising at about 11 p.m. at the beginning of the week and 10:30 by the end of the week. Look for the moon and Jupiter together on the night of May 4th. Mars is still hanging out in the morning skies and rising at 4:30 a.m. at midweek.

Late last week, after about a month of no substantial solar activity, a large sunspot rotated onto the Earth-facing side of the sun. The spot is pretty large at about 5 times the diameter of the Earth. You can see images of the sun daily at spaceweather.com

Also last week, astronomers announced the discovery of a planet around the red dwarf star Gliese 581 that lies in the zone where liquid water could exist on the planet. The planet is about five times the mass of earth and orbits its parent star in 13 days since it is much closer to its star than the Earth is to the sun. Gliese 581 is just 20 light years from earth.

Public viewing at the 16-inch reflector on top of Robert Lee Moore Hall is on Wednesday nights from 8 to 10 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 8 to 10 p.m. Painter Hall is located on 24th street about halfway between Speedway and Guadalupe and is northeast of the UT Tower.

This week will be the final week of public viewing for the spring semester. Viewing will resume in 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. 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.