skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday July 11th through Sunday July 17th.

The moon is at first quarter on Monday night into Tuesday morning, depending on your time zone, and we'll have a waxing gibbous moon for the rest of the week.

Mercury and Venus will move closer together until they are separated by a little over half a degree on Saturday, but they will be setting just 45 minutes after the sun, so the close pairing will be difficult to see.

Jupiter is up in the west at sundown and is setting at 11:35 p.m. at midweek, so time is running out to catch the gas giant before it moves into conjunction with the sun in a couple of months.

Mars and Saturn are up in the south at nightfall and are joined by the moon on Thursday and Friday. Look for Mars to the lower right of the moon and Saturn to the lower left on Thursday night and Saturn just below the moon on Friday night. Mars is setting at 2:30 a.m. this week, followed by Saturn at 3:45 a.m.

In space anniversaries this week, Friday July 15th marks five years since the Dawn probe went into orbit around the asteroid Vesta and became the first spacecraft to orbit an object in the main asteroid belt. Dawn eventually left Vesta and went into orbit around the asteroid Ceres, where it is currently operating.

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 so please check the schedule before planning a visit. Observing events are weather permitting. Please call 512-232-4265 for weather cancellation information, which is updated 30 to 45 minutes before the scheduled viewing start time.

Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers Report.