skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday July 25th through Sunday July 31st.

The second new moon for the month of July occurs on Saturday the 30th so we will have a waning crescent moon for most of the week.

Mercury is still visible low in the western skies, setting about an hour after the sun at midweek as it moves back towards conjunction with the sun. Saturn is in the west-southwest at nightfall and is setting a little before midnight this week.

Jupiter rises at 1 a.m., with Mars following at 3:45 a.m. Look for Mars as an orange star-like object below and to the left of the crescent moon on the morning of the 27th. Venus is now up just 20 minutes before the sun as it moves towards conjunction with the sun in mid-August.

Last week astronomers announced the discovery of a fourth moon around the dwarf planet Pluto using the Hubble Space Telescope. The new satellite, which does not yet have a name, joins Charon, discovered in 1978 and Nix and Hydra, discovered in 2005. The New Horizons probe, launched in 2006, will investigate the system in July 2015 and then continue on to the Kuiper Belt. You can even help choose the objects that New Horizons will investigate by joining the Ice Hunters project at www.icehunters.org and helping to identify icy bodies of our outer solar system.

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.