Skywatchers Report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday June 22nd through Sunday June 28th.

The moon is at first quarter in the early hours of Sunday morning so we’ll see a waxing crescent moon in our early evening skies all week.

Mercury is now very low in the west-northwest at sunset and is setting just 20 minutes after the sun at midweek as it heads towards its next conjunction with the sun next week.

Jupiter is rising at 9:40 p.m. at midweek followed by Saturn about 20 minutes later. And although it would be difficult to pick out unless you have a really large telescope, Pluto will be alongside Jupiter all week.

Mars is rising at 1:20 a.m. at midweek and has now grown to magnitude -0.5 and 11.2 arcseconds in size as it heads towards closest approach to Earth in October.

Venus is rising at 4:45 a.m. at midweek, almost two hours before sunrise.

In space anniversaries this week, Saturday June 27th marks the 25th anniversary of the launch of the Space Shuttle Atlantis which became the first shuttle mission to dock with the Russian Space Station Mir. This was also the first shuttle mission to facilitate a crew transfer that delivered two cosmonauts to the station and returned two cosmonauts and US Astronaut Norm Thagard to Earth. The International Space Station eventually replaced Mir so the aging station was deorbited in March 2001.

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.