Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday July 18th through Sunday July 24th.
The moon is at third quarter on Friday night or Saturday morning, depending on your time zone so we will have a waning gibbous moon for most of the week and a waning crescent moon for the weekend.
Mercury is visible low in the west after sundown and is setting around 10 p.m. and is starting to sink back towards the sun after reaching greatest elongation at midweek. Saturn is still up in the southwest at sunset and is setting at 12:15 a.m. at midweek. Jupiter is up at 1:20 a.m. followed by Mars at 4 a.m. and Venus at 6:15 a.m., just a little before the sun. Look for Jupiter below the moon on Saturday morning and to the right of the moon on Sunday morning.
The Dawn spacecraft successfully entered orbit around the asteroid Vesta last weekend and then will spiral down to its survey orbit in August. You can learn more about the mission and see the images Dawn has already taken of Vesta at dawn.jpl.nasa.gov
The Space Shuttle Atlantis is due to land at Kennedy Space Center, Florida on the morning of Thursday the 21st, bringing an end to NASA's Space Shuttle Program. You can learn more about this final mission and the history of the shuttle 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.