StarDate Magazine Introduces Media Service with Planetary Line-Up in Pre-Dawn Sky June 19-21; Animation and Images Available

June 16, 2009

Planetary conjunction June 19-21, 2009

Mars, Venus, Mercury and the Moon huddle up later this week.

AUSTIN, Texas — StarDate magazine, published by The University of Texas at Austin McDonald Observatory, is introducing a new service called “StarDate Media” to help print Web and broadcast media bring the excitement of skywatching events to their readers and viewers.

It’s starting with a great planetary conjunction coming up in the pre-dawn sky June 19-21, featuring Mercury, Venus, Mars and the Moon.

To download a high-resolution illustration or high-definition video animation, visit StarDate’s Media Center on the Web at: http://stardate.org/mediacenter.

While you’re there, be sure to register for future updates. You’ll receive advanced notice of materials you can use to cover meteor showers, eclipses, conjunctions and more.

Starting June 19, look for Venus blazing as the “morning star” due east around an hour to 45 minutes before sunrise. Fainter Mars will be a little to its lower left, with Mercury a good bit farther to the lower left. Although Mercury looks like a bright star, it will be so low in the sky you may need binoculars to pick it out.

The little Pleiades star cluster will appear to the upper right of Mercury, forming the shoulder of the constellation Taurus, the bull.

The Moon will be well to the upper right of Venus and Mars on the morning of the 18th, and directly above them on the 19th. It moves closer to the Pleiades on the 20th, and a little left of Mercury on the 21st, when it will be the slimmest of crescents.

Published bi-monthly, StarDate magazine provides readers with skywatching tips, skymaps, beautiful astronomical photos, astronomy news and features, and a 32-page Sky Almanac each January. Find out more about the magazine at http://stardate.org/magazine.

Established in 1932, The University of Texas at Austin McDonald Observatory near Fort Davis, Texas, hosts multiple telescopes undertaking a wide range of astronomical research under the darkest night skies of any professional observatory in the continental United States. McDonald is home to the consortium-run Hobby-Eberly Telescope, one of the world’s largest, which will soon be upgraded to begin the HET Dark Energy Experiment. An internationally known leader in astronomy education and outreach, McDonald Observatory is also pioneering the next generation of astronomical research as a founding partner of the Giant Magellan Telescope.

For more information, contact: Rebecca Johnson, McDonald Observatory, College of Natural Sciences, 512 475 6763.