skywatchers report

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

The moon is full late on the night of Saturday May 5th so we will have a waxing gibbous moon for most of this week. This full moon occurs within about half an hour of perigee, the Moon's closest approach to the Earth in orbit, so this will be the largest full moon in angular size in 2012 and will cause extra-high tides. The full moon of May is known as the Milk Moon, the Flower Moon and the Corn Moon.

Jupiter is now about two weeks from conjunction with the sun and it setting just half an hour after the sun at midweek. Venus is still shining very brightly in the west-northwest after sunset and will reach its greatest illumination of magnitude -4.5 on Monday April 30th. Venus sets at 11:15 p.m. at midweek.

Mars is high in the southeast at nightfall and is setting at 3:45 a.m. Saturn is up in the east-southeast in the evening twilight and sets at 6:05 a.m. Mercury is up in the morning skies about an hour before sunrise.

Public viewing at the 16-inch reflector on top of Robert Lee Moore Hall is on Wednesday night now 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 night now 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. To get to the telescope, take the elevator to the 5th floor and exit to the left. Follow the 5th floor hallway to the end and take the staircase through the double doors on the left. Once you reach the 6th floor, go to your right and follow the signs up to the telescope.

This week's public viewing nights are the final star parties for the spring semester. Summer viewing will start in early 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 the scheduled viewing start time when a viewing is cancelled.

Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers Report.