Skywatchers Report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday May 11th through Sunday May 17th.

The moon is at last quarter on Thursday the 14th so we’ll have a waning gibbous moon for the first part of the week and a waning crescent moon for the latter part of the week.

Venus is still in the western skies after sunset but is now rapidly sinking towards the sun as it heads towards inferior conjunction the first week of June. Venus is setting at 10:30 p.m. at midweek.

Mercury is emerging from conjunction and is climbing up towards Venus a little each evening. Mercury is setting at 9:15 p.m. at midweek, about an hour after sunset.

Jupiter is rising at 12:45 a.m., followed by Saturn about 20 minutes later. Mars is rising two hours after Jupiter at 2:45 a.m. Look for Jupiter and Saturn above and to the left of the waning gibbous moon early on Tuesday morning. Mars is above the moon early on Friday morning.

If you’ve been seeing a story going around the internet that Venus, Jupiter, and the moon will form a smiley face on May 16, unfortunately that’s not the case. As mentioned above, Venus will be setting in the west at about 10:30 p.m. that night and Jupiter will be rising in the east two hours later. The moon will be up at 3:30 a.m. that morning and won’t be anywhere near Venus or Jupiter. Even if they aren’t making a smiley face, all of those objects are worth taking a look at with binoculars or a telescope!

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.

While you’re waiting for in-person telescope viewing to resume, McDonald Observatory has been live-streaming night sky tours from west Texas! You can view past events on the McDonald Observatory YouTube channel and you can follow the observatory on Twitter and Facebook to be notified of future events.

Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers Report.