skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday July 15th through Sunday the 21st.

The moon is at first quarter late on the night of Monday the 15th, so we will have a waxing gibbous moon for the remainder of the week. Look for the bright star Spica next to the moon as well on Monday night.

Venus continues to shine brightly in the west after sunset and is setting at 10:15 p.m. this week.

Saturn has now moved further west and is high in the south-southwest as the sky darkens after nightfall. Look for Saturn a few degrees above the moon on Tuesday night.

Early risers will notice Mars and Jupiter slowly moving closer together over the course of the week. Both planets are up about an hour and 45 minutes before sunrise and by the morning of Monday the 22nd, the will be less than a degree apart.

Mercury is emerging from conjunction and is up a little less than an hour before sunrise at midweek.

On July 19th, the Cassini spacecraft currently in orbit around Saturn, will take a backlit picture of the ringed planet and in the process will also catch Earth in the image. The spacecraft team is encouraging people to go out and "Wave at Saturn" that night as well as observe and take pictures of Saturn, which you can contribute to their Flickr group. For more details, look for the "Wave at Saturn" graphic on the Cassini website 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 512-232-4265 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.