skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Tuesday July 5th through Sunday July 10th.

The moon is at first quarter on Friday morning so we will have a waxing crescent moon for most of the week and a waxing gibbous moon for the weekend.

Mercury is visible in the west-northwest after sunset and is setting at 10 p.m., so this would be a good week to try to see it. Saturn is in the southwest as the sky darkens after sunset and it setting at 1:15 a.m. at midweek. Look for Saturn above and slightly to the right of the moon on Thursday the 7th. Jupiter is rising a little after 2 a.m. followed by Mars a little after 4 a.m. and Venus at 5:45 a.m.

The Space Shuttle Atlantis is due to launch Friday morning on the final mission of NASA's Space Shuttle program. Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley and Mission Specialists Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim will deliver the Raffaello multi-purpose logistics module and parts to the International Space Station. Atlantis launched on its maiden flight on October 3, 1985 and this final mission will be its 33rd flight. Among Atlantis' key missions were the deployment of the Galileo spacecraft that orbited Jupiter, deployment of the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, the first docking with the Russian Mir Space Station and the final servicing mission for the Hubble Space Telescope. Atlantis has carried a total of 203 crewmembers into space and has orbited the Earth 4648 times prior to its final flight. You can learn more about this mission, the history of the Space Shuttle program and the future of NASA's manned spaceflight program at 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. 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.