Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for August 6th through the 11th.
The new moon is on Thursday the 8th. The slim crescent moon will make a nice pair in the western sky with Venus on the night of the 11th.
The Perseid meteor shower peaks on Monday the 12th. The peak of the shower occurs during the day on Monday, but early morning observers might be able to catch some good activity before the peak on Sunday night into the pre-dawn hours of Monday. We should also get fairly good activity on the night of Monday the 12th into the morning of the 13th. Because the moon sets around 11 p.m. that night, it will be well out of the way for prime meteor watching. To get the best view of the shower, get away from city lights.
Meteor showers are one of the few astronomical events that don't require any special equipment to observe. Just find a nice dark place and look up! The meteors will be appearing to come from a point in the constellation Perseus which rises in the north east around midnight. Although meteors are commonly called 'shooting stars', they are in fact small bits of rock and dust burning up in our atmosphere. In the case of this particular shower, they are the debris left from the comet Swift-Tuttle. The Perseids are expected to produce 30-60 meteors an hour and usually produce bright and long-lasting trails.
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. Next week will be the final week for summer star parties. Fall semester viewing will resume in September.