Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday May 15 through Monday May 29.
The moon will be a waning crescent in the pre-dawn skies until it reaches new moon on May 19th and then we’ll have a waxing crescent moon in the early evening skies until it reaches first quarter on May 27th.
Venus continues to shine brightly in the west after sunset and is setting at 11:45 p.m. on the 15th and 11:50 p.m. at the end of the month. Look for the crescent moon near Venus on the evenings of the 22nd and 23rd.
Mars is above Venus in the west at sunset and is setting at 12:55 a.m. on the 15th and 12:30 a.m. by the end of the month. Look for Mars to the lower left of the moon on the evening of Wednesday the 24th.
In the morning skies, Saturn is rising at 3:00 a.m. on the 15th and at 2:00 a.m. at the end of the month.
Jupiter is rising at 5:25 a.m. at midmonth and 4:40 a.m. by the end of the month. On the morning of the 17th, the very thin crescent moon will move in front of Jupiter in what is known as an occultation.
Mercury is up at 5:50 a.m. on the 15th and at 5:20 a.m. on the 29th when it is at greatest elongation.
In space anniversaries, Monday May 15 marks 60 years since the launch of Faith 7 with astronaut Gordon Cooper on the final flight of the Mercury human spaceflight program. Cooper was the first US astronaut to stay in space for over 24 hours and he was the last American to date to go into space alone. The mission splashed down and was recovered by the USS Kearsarge the following day. The capsule is currently on display at Space Center Houston.
And 45 years ago on May 20th, the Pioneer Venus Orbiter launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The spacecraft entered orbit in December 1978 and returned data until October 8, 1992. Two weeks later, its orbit decayed, and it burned up in the Venusian atmosphere after 14 years in service.
Public viewing on UT campus telescopes has finished for the spring semester. Stay tuned for information on the summer viewing schedule.
Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers Report and have a happy and safe Memorial Day weekend.