skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for Monday June 23rd through Sunday the 29th.

The moon is at third quarter on Thursday the 26th. We’ll have a waning gibbous moon for the first half of the week, followed by the waning crescent after third quarter.

Mars, Saturn and the star Regulus are still close together in the high western skies as the sky darkens after sunset. Mars is the lowest of the bunch and will have an orange tint to it. Saturn is the highest of the three and Regulus is in between. All three will be setting by a little after midnight this week. Jupiter is rising at about 9:30 p.m. this week. Mercury is up in the morning skies a little over an hour before the sun. Venus is still very close to the sun and difficult to see.

As most people have probably heard by now, scientists working on the Mars Phoenix lander are convinced that the mission has already accomplished one of its main science goals: to find water ice in the Martian arctic. A trench dug on the 20th Martian day, or sol, of the mission revealed some light clumps that had disappeared a few days later. The conclusion is that the clumps were water ice that have sublimated, meaning that they turned directly to a gas from a solid form. The current temperature in the polar region is currently too warm for it to be carbon dioxide ice, leaving water ice as the best option. Images, analysis and more mission news are available at phoenix.lpl.arizona.edu and at the NASA page for the mission, which you can get to from www.nasa.gov.

Public viewing at the 16-inch reflector on top of Robert Lee Moore Hall is on Wednesday nights from 9:00 to 10:30 p.m. RLM is located on the southeast corner of Dean Keeton and Speedway. Take the elevator to the 17th floor and follow the signs to the telescope.

Public viewing at the 9-inch refractor at Painter Hall is on Friday and Saturday nights from 9:00 to 10:30 p.m. Painter Hall is located on 24th street about halfway between Speedway and Guadalupe and is northeast of the UT Tower. To get to the telescope, take the elevator to the 5th floor and exit to the left. Follow the 5th floor hallway to the end and take the staircase through the double doors on the left. Once you reach the 6th floor, go to your right and follow the signs up to the telescope.

All events are free and open to all ages and no reservations are required. Note that viewing times and availability change throughout the year. Observing events are weather permitting. Please call 232-4265 for weather cancellation information, which is updated 30 to 60 minutes before the scheduled start time when a viewing is cancelled.

Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report.