Never pass up a chance to sit down or relieve yourself. -old Apache saying

Sunday, May 1, 2016

May Stargazing

Time is flying by faster and faster all the time. Before you know it, we'll all be dead! So keep looking up.

In a light show befitting a Star Wars death star, four lasers fire from a telescope at Paranal Observatory in Chile during an April 26 demonstration. The lasers are part of the telescope's adaptive optics system, which compensates for the blurring effect of Earth's atmosphere. The observatory says the new laser system is the most powerful used on any telescope. [European Southern Observatory]

Stargazing Summary

Mars takes center stage this month. The planet shines brightest for the year, outperforming all but the Moon and Jupiter. Saturn trails close behind it, and it's nearing its peak for 2016 as well. In the meantime, Virgo climbs higher into the evening sky, Leo begins to nose down toward the western horizon, and the twins of Gemini begin to disappear in the western twilight by month's end.

More stargazing information

Radio Program Highlights

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May 2-8: Crossings. The little planet Mercury is getting ready to cross in front of the Sun, and we'll have details. We'll also talk about efforts to use a similar crossing to find another planet. Join us for Mercury's transit of the Sun and much more.

May 9-15: The Great War. A hundred years ago, astronomers around the world were fighting in the Great War, although a few of them still found time for science. Join us for astronomy and World War I, plus the Moon and a giant planet.

May 16-22: Brilliant Mars. The Red Planet is putting on its best performance of the year, and we'll tell you how to find it. We'll also talk about the planet's shifting skin, its lost atmosphere, and much more. Join us for the planet Mars and more.

May 23-29: Calling Cards. Most missions to the planets these days carry calling cards from Earth — everything from lists of names to custom-built Lego figurines. Join us for these trinkets from Earth, plus some disappearing stars and much more.

May 30-June 5: Golden Giant. The giant planet Saturn is at its best this week, and we'll tell you why. We'll also talk about the anniversary of a soft landing on the Moon. Join us for golden Saturn, Surveyor 1, and much more.

Program schedule »

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This Month in StarDate Magazine

Our Summer Reading Issue is here! In it, you'll find excerpts from new books in astronomy and space science. We'll also bring you skywatching tips and charts, plus the latest astronomy news.

Subscribe today

News From the Observatory

Brendan Bowler Wins Hubble Fellowship
Astronomer Brendan Bowler of The University of Texas at Austin has been awarded a competitive Hubble Fellowship from NASA and the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), science center for the Hubble Space Telescope. Bowler studies the origin, the atmospheres, and the architectures of giant planets around other stars.

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About SkyTips

SkyTips is a monthly email newsletter for visitors to McDonald Observatory and StarDate Online. Each issue features stargazing highlights, upcoming StarDate radio program descriptions, and other news. Please feel free to forward this newsletter to your friends and family.

SkyTips is a publication of the University of Texas McDonald Observatory Education and Outreach Office, 2609 University Ave. A2100, Austin, TX 78712. Reproduction of SkyTips content is permitted with proper credit given to McDonald Observatory.

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