skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday August 1st through Sunday the 7th.

The moon is at first quarter on Saturday the 6th, so we will have a waxing crescent moon in the evening skies most of this week and a waxing gibbous moon for the weekend.

Mercury is up low in the west as it moves back towards conjunction with the sun. It will be setting at 9:15 p.m. at the beginning of the week and 8:50 p.m. by the weekend. Saturn is up in the west-southwest and it setting at 11:30 p.m. at midweek. Look for Saturn as a bright star-like object above the crescent moon on the evening of the 3rd and to the right of the moon on the 4th. Jupiter is rising at 12:30 a.m. at midweek followed by Mars at 3:45 a.m. Venus is now only 3 and a half degrees from the Sun as it moves towards conjunction at midmonth.

NASA's next mission to Jupiter, the Juno spacecraft, is set to launch this Friday. Juno will join Pioneers 10 and 11, Voyagers 1 and 2 and the Galileo spacecraft in the missions that have studied Jupiter and its moons up close. Galileo was the first spacecraft to orbit Jupiter and was deliberately crashed into the gas giant in September 2003 once its fuel supply was depleted. Juno will take 5 years to reach Jupiter and will enter orbit in the summer of 2016. You can learn more about the mission at www.nasa.gov/juno

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. Next week, August 10th, will be the final Wednesday night star party for the summer.

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. Next week, August 12 and 13, will be the final Painter Hall public viewing nights of the summer.

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.