Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday May 12th through Monday May 26th.
The full moon for the month of May is on Wednesday the 14th. This full moon is known as the Milk Moon, the Flower Moon, and the Corn Moon. The moon will then be a waning gibbous until it reaches third quarter on Wednesday the 21st. After third quarter it will be a waning crescent for the remainder of that week.
The early evening skies are still rich with bright planets. Mercury continues to move away from the sun and will reach greatest elongation on Sunday the 25th. On that night it will set nearly two hours after the sun, so it is a good time to look for the innermost planet.
Jupiter is getting lower in the west, but is still setting around midnight for the remainder of the month so it is visible for a few hours after nightfall.
Mars is high in the southeast and is setting at 4:45 a.m. at mid-month and at 3:45 a.m. by the end of the month.
Saturn is rising shortly before sunset now that it has passed opposition and it is still visible for nearly the whole night. Saturn sets at 6:45 a.m. at mid-month and sets at 5:50 a.m. by the end of the month. The moon will be near Saturn on the nights of the 14th and 15th.
Venus continues to shine as the morning star and is rising a little less than two hours before the run for the remainder of the month. Look for a thin crescent moon near Venus on the morning of Sunday the 25th.
In the morning hours of Saturday May 24th, the Earth may be treated to a new meteor shower courtesy of Comet 209P/LINEAR. The meteors will appear to come from a point in the lesser-known constellation Camelopardalis, the Giraffe. The predicted peak of the shower is between 1 and 3 a.m. central time on the morning of the 24th, so it favors North American viewers. The major uncertainty of the shower though is how many meteors it may produce, since we don't know how active this relatively newly-discovered comet was when it produced the debris cloud the earth will be passing through. You can learn more about this shower and other meteor activity at the American Meteor Society at amsmeteors.org
Public viewing on UT campus telescopes has finished for the spring semester. Summer viewing will resume in early June. Please check back for information on starting dates and times.
Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers Report and have a happy and safe Memorial Day weekend.