Skywatchers Report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday May 18th through Monday May 25th.

The new moon for the month of May is on Friday, so we’ll have a waning crescent moon for the work week and start into the waxing crescent phase on the weekend.

As Venus continues to sink back towards the sun and Mercury is moving away from the sun, the two inner planets will cross paths in our early evening skies. Here in Texas we’ll see them less than a degree apart low in the west shortly after sunset on Thursday evening.

Jupiter is rising at 12:20 a.m. this week, followed by Saturn at 12:35 a.m. Mars comes along a couple of hours later at 2:30 a.m.

In space anniversaries this week, Wednesday May 20th marks the 10th anniversary of the launch of the Japanese Space Agency’s Akatsuki spacecraft, also known as the Venus Climate Orbiter. The spacecraft failed to enter orbit as planned in December 2010 but ended up in orbit around the sun. After a series of trajectory maneuvers, engineers were able achieve a successful orbital insertion around Venus in December 2015. The spacecraft continues to operate in orbit around Venus and the mission is expected to last until at least the end of 2020.

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.