skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday June 21st through Sunday June 27th.

The full moon for the month of June is on Thursday so we’ll have a waxing gibbous moon for the first half of the week and a waning gibbous moon for the weekend. This full moon is known as the Flower Moon, Rose Moon, the Strawberry Moon, and the Honey Moon.

Venus is shining brightly low in the west after sunset and is still visible to the left of the stars Castor and Pollux of the constellation Gemini. Venus is setting at 10:15 p.m. at midweek.

Mars is above and a little to the left of Venus and is setting at 10:50 p.m. this week.

Saturn is rising at 11:00 p.m. and is visible for the remainder of the night. Jupiter follows, rising at midnight. Look for Saturn to the right of the moon on Saturday night and the moon will appear between Saturn and Jupiter on Sunday night.

Mercury is rising about an hour before the sun as it moves away from its last solar conjunction and towards its next greatest elongation.

In space anniversaries this week, Sunday June 27th marks the 25th anniversary of the first flyby of the giant Jovian moon Ganymede by the Galileo spacecraft. Galileo was the first spacecraft to orbit Jupiter following the flybys by Pioneers 10 & 11 and Voyagers 1 & 2, as well as the Ulysses solar orbiter that used Jupiter for a gravity-assist. The spacecraft was in the Jovian system for over 7 and a half years and was able to image all four of the major moons of Jupiter as well as several of the smaller ones, in addition to the planet itself. The mission ended in September 2003 when the spacecraft was purposely crashed into Jupiter’s atmosphere.

Exploration of Jupiter continues with the Juno spacecraft that entered orbit in July 2016 which has made two flybys of Ganymede including a close pass just a couple of weeks ago.

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.