skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for July 29th to August 5th.

The moon is at last quarter phase on August 1.

Venus still dominates the western sky at sunset. The brilliantly bright planet sets around 10:30 this week. A look at Venus in a telescope will reveal that the planet is about 60% illuminated and resembles a small quarter moon.

Although it has passed the most recent peak of its 11 year cycle, the sun has become very active again over the past few days. The sunspot count over the past weekend reached its highest number since March 2001. The largest spot currently visible on the sun is about 12 times the size of planet earth. For more information on the sun and how to safely observe it, check out www.spaceweather.com

In an update to a astronomical story that was in the news last week, astronomers can now safely rule out any chance of collision between the Earth and asteroid 2002 NT7 in 2019. As more observations were added to the calculations, the orbit for the asteroid was more accurately defined which allowed scientists to exclude the chance of an impact. More information on Near Earth Asteroids can be found at neo.jpl.nasa.gov

The telescope at Robert Lee Moore hall is open to the public on Wednesday nights at 9 p.m. The building is located on the southeast corner of Dean Keeton (formerly 26th street) and Speedway. Take the elevator to the 17th floor and follow the signs to the telescope.

The telescope at Painter hall is open on Fridays for UT students, faculty and staff from 9:00 to 10:00 p.m. and Saturdays are open to the general public from 9:00 to 11:00 p.m. Painter Hall is located on 24th street about half way between Speedway and Guadalupe.

All events are free and open to all ages and no reservations are required. Observing events are weather permitting.

Please note that star party times change throughout the year. Please call this recording to check times before planning a visit to the telescopes.