Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for Monday June 28th through July 4th.
The moon is at third quarter on Sunday July 4th, so it won't be up for early evening fireworks viewing. Look for the moon above Jupiter in the hours before dawn on the 3rd and to the left of Jupiter on the morning of the 4th.
Mercury is in superior conjunction with the sun on Monday June 28th and will pass behind the sun from the Earth's point of view. Over the next couple of weeks it will re-emerge into the evening skies.
The evening line-up of planets in the west after sunset continues this week. Venus is lowest and the brightest, setting a little after 11 p.m. Mars is up and to the left of Venus and sets at midnight. Saturn is up and to the left of Mars and is setting at 1 a.m.
Last week the Cassini spacecraft made its lowest past of the moon Titan since entering orbit around Saturn on July 1, 2004. The spacecraft passed 550 miles from the Titan's surface and was investigating whether the moon has a magnetic field. You can see all of the incredible images from this mission at saturn.jpl.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. this summer. 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. this summer. 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 and have a happy and safe Independence Day weekend.