Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for Monday August 9th through Sunday the 15th.
The new moon for the month of August is on Tuesday morning, so we will have a waxing crescent moon for the remainder of the week. This new moon occurs close to the moon's perigee, so there will be larger than average high tides.
Venus, Mars and Saturn are still grouped close together in the early evening western skies with Mercury below them and low to the horizon. Venus is the brightest of the planets. Mars is to Venus' upper left and Saturn is to its upper right. By the end of the week, Mars will be almost directly above Venus and Saturn will be to Venus' right. On the 11th, look for thin crescent moon below Mercury about half an hour after sunset. On the 12th, the moon will be below Venus and on the 13th it will be to the left of the triangle of evening planets.
The Perseid meteor shower peaks this week on the night of the 12th into the morning hours of the 13th. The Perseids get their name because they appear to come from a point in the constellation Perseus, known as the radiant of a meteor shower. The particles that streak through our atmosphere and create the shower come from the Comet Swift-Tuttle. This shower has been observed for about 2000 years and is usually one of the more active of the annual meteor showers. This year should be good since the moon will set early in the evening and its light will not interfere with meteor watching. To observe the shower, head out to a dark place and look up - no special equipment is needed. If you want to count meteors and report your observations, head to the website of the International Meteor Organization for more information at www.imo.net.
Public viewing on the 16-in telescope at RLM has finished for the summer so we can perform maintenance before the fall semester. Fall viewing will start in early September.
Public viewing at the 9-inch refractor at Painter Hall is on Friday and Saturday nights from 9:00 to 10:30 p.m. 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. This week is the final week for summer public viewing at the Painter Hall Telescope. Fall viewing will start in early September.
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.s
Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report.