Rexburg residents will be able to see the moon have a few close encounters with three planets this month.
Two of Jupiter’s moons will pass behind the planet on May 11, 2017, according to National Geographic.
“Jupiter will eclipse Europa, and Ganymede will come out of eclipse just after sunset,” said Teri Gee, a professor in the Department of Physics.
Gee said that Jupiter and Venus are bright and easy to see with the naked eye at the moment. Jupiter can be seen in the evening before sunset with Venus visible before sunrise.
“Saturn is also visible later at night, and with a small telescope, you can see the rings,” Gee said.
Viewing Saturn and its rings will be optimal on May 13, 2017, according to National Geographic.
“On May 22, the waning crescent moon will park itself next to Venus, creating a stunning photo opportunity,” according to National Geographic. “This is also a good opportunity to view the phases of Venus.”
Gee said that like the moon, Venus also goes through phases, but this is difficult to see without a telescope.
Bailey Risenmay, a freshman studying horticulture, said she did not even know there was a telescope available to the public on campus.
The telescope is available at the Observatory in the George S. Romney Building. It is free of charge and open to the public, according to the Department of Physics Observatory webpage.
The Observatory also has a Facebook page detailing hours for access on specific days.
Neither Risenmay or Gee have used the telescope in the George S. Romney Building, but Gee said she has heard it to be a good experience.
Risenmay used to go star-gazing with friends just for the social aspect, but then she discovered she really enjoys it and now she does night photography of the sky.
“Students should look up at the sky for the pure enjoyment of it,” said Stephen McNeil, a professor in the Department of Physics. “However, it is a time commitment, looking up at the skies for hours sometimes just to get a glimpse.”
McNeil does not think students should wait for an event to watch the night sky.
“Go out one night and look at the night sky for a while,” McNeil said. “What is already up there is impressive enough.”