skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday June 7th through Sunday June 13th.

The moon is new early on Thursday the 10th so we’ll have a waning crescent moon in the pre-dawn skies for the first half of the week and then we’ll have a waxing crescent moon in our early evening skies this weekend.

The Earth, moon, and sun are still aligned after last month’s lunar eclipse at the full moon and therefore some parts of the Earth to see a solar eclipse with this new moon. Last month’s full moon was also close to perigee, the moon’s closest point to the Earth in its orbit, so it had the largest apparent size of any full moon this year. Now, two weeks later, the new moon will be just past apogee, the moon’s farthest point from the Earth in its orbit, which gives the moon a smaller than average angular size. Because of this, this solar eclipse will be what is known as an ‘annular eclipse’ where the moon’s size isn’t quite large enough to completely block out the sun’s disk and a ring of sunlight is left around the moon at maximum eclipse.

The center line of this annular eclipse will run through northeast Canada, northern Greenland, and northeast Siberia, but most of Europe, Asia, and the northeastern part of North America will see a partial eclipse. None of the eclipse will be visible here in Texas, but we’ll get our chance with two upcoming solar eclipses in October 2023 and April 2024.

Mercury is at inferior conjunction on Thursday night and will pass between the Earth and the Sun from our point of view. After conjunction, Mercury will begin to re-emerge in our early morning skies.

Venus is shining brightly low in the west after sunset and is setting at 10 p.m. this week. Mars is still near the stars Castor and Pollux in the constellation Gemini and is setting at 11:15 p.m. at midweek. Look for Mars below the thin crescent moon on Sunday evening.

Saturn is now rising shortly before midnight and is visible the rest of the night. Jupiter follows, rising just before 1 a.m. Both planets are moving towards opposition in August.

All public viewing events on UT campus telescopes are currently on hold. 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, you can tune in to McDonald Observatory live streams from west Texas. You can view past events on the McDonald Observatory YouTube channel and you can follow the observatory on TwitterFacebook and at McDonaldObservatory.org to be notified of future events.

Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers Report.