Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday July 22nd through Sunday August 4th.
The moon is at third quarter on the night of Wednesday July 24th and will be in the waning crescent phase until it reaches New Moon late on the night of Wednesday July 31st. After that, we'll have a thin waxing crescent moon in the early evening sky for the rest of that week.
Mars is low in the west-northwest and continues to slowly sink towards the sun as it heads towards conjunction in early September. Mars will set at 9:20 p.m. on July 22nd and at 8:55 p.m. by August 4th, just 30 minutes after sunset.
Jupiter is up in the south-southeast at nightfall and is setting at 3:35 a.m. on July 22nd and 2:40 a.m. by August 4th. Saturn follows Jupiter in the southeast at nightfall and setting at 5:50 a.m. on July 22nd and is setting at 4:55 a.m. by August 4th so it is still visible for most of the night.
In the morning skies, Mercury is emerging from conjunction with the sun and is rising at 5:35 a.m. by August 4th. Venus is sinking towards the sun as it moves towards conjunction in mid-August and is now mostly lost in the sun's glare.
In space anniversaries this week, continuing from last week, Wednesday July 24th marks 50 years since the successful landing of the Apollo 11 mission back on Earth. After landing, the crew was kept in quarantine for three weeks. Also 50 years ago, on July 29th, the Mariner 6 spacecraft transmitted the first close-up photos of Mars back to Earth.
20 years ago, on July 23rd, the Space Shuttle Columbia launched with Eileen Collins as the first woman to command a shuttle mission. The Chandra x-ray satellite was deployed during the mission and is current still in operation.
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 Fridays and Saturdays 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. Take the elevator to the 5th floor and then take the stairs up to the 6th floor and follow the signs to the telescope.
Please arrive at RLM or Painter Hall before 10 p.m. to ensure access to the buildings.
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.