skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday May 14th through Monday May 28th.

The new moon for the month of May is on Sunday the 20th so we will have a waning crescent moon in the skies leading up to that. The moon will reach first quarter on Monday the 28th, and we will have a waxing crescent moon the week before.

The new moon will eclipse the sun for some observers on May 20th, but because the moon is near apogee, its farthest point from the earth in its orbit, we will see what is known as an annular eclipse where there is a ring of sun still visible around the moon instead of the total eclipse we sometimes see. Here in Austin we will just see a little bit of a partial eclipse shortly before sunset. Due to the timing and placement of the eclipse, UT will not have any public viewing for this event. If you try to view it from Austin, find a place with a good view of the western horizon and make sure to use equipment that is certified as safe for observing the sun such as eclipse glasses, a no. 14 welder's glass, or a filter that goes over the end of the telescope and not the type that goes on the telescope eyepiece. If you want a good view of the annular eclipse you will need to travel at least as far west as Lubbock, but Albuquerque will get a better view. You can find out more about the eclipse at the NASA eclipse pages at eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov.

Jupiter passed behind the sun on the 13th and is now in our morning skies and by the 28th it will be up about 35 minutes before the sun. Mercury will be in superior conjunction on the 27th and will pass from the morning skies back into the evening skies.

Venus is now sinking back towards the sun a little every day as it heads towards the transit on June 5th. Venus is setting at 10:40 p.m. on the 14th, 10:15 p.m. on the 20th and 9:25 p.m. on Monday the 28th. Details on the UT public viewing for the transit of Venus are now posted at outreach.as.utexas.edu/venus

Mars is high in the south at sunset on the 14th and is setting at 3:10 a.m. in the morning of the 15th, at 2:50 a.m. on the morning of the 21st and 2:25 a.m. on the morning of the 29th. Saturn is up in the southeast as the skies darken after sunset and will set at 5:20 a.m. on the 15th, 4:55 a.m. on the 21st and 4:20 a.m. on the 29th.

Public viewing on UT campus telescopes has finished for the spring semester. Summer viewing will start in early June.

Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers Report and have a happy and safe Memorial Day holiday.