Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Tuesday July 14th through Sunday July 19th.
The new moon for the month of July is late on Wednesday, so we'll start the week with a thin waning crescent moon and finish with a waxing crescent moon the western skies shortly after sunset.
Venus and Jupiter continue to move away from one another and sink back towards the sun, but are still visible for a while in the western skies after sunset, with both setting around 10:20 p.m. at midweek. Look for a thin crescent moon near Venus on Saturday night.
Saturn is up in the south at sundown and is setting at 3:00 a.m.
Mercury and Mars will be very close to one another in the morning skies on Wednesday and Thursday, but will be up less than an hour before the sun so they might be hard to make out in the dawn twilight.
In space news this week, Tuesday July 14th was the closest approach of the New Horizons spacecraft to the Pluto system, the first spacecraft to visit the icy world. You can follow the mission at pluto.jhuapl.edu and at nasa.gov/newhorizons.
The first flyby of Pluto also falls on the 50th anniversary of the first successful flyby of Mars, which was performed by the Mariner 4 spacecraft on July 14, 1965.
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.