skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for Monday August 18th through Sunday the 24th.

The moon is at third quarter on Saturday the 23rd.

Four of the five naked-eye planets are still clustered low in the west after sunset. Saturn is the lowest, with Mercury and Venus right next to each other and Mars above to the left. All four of these will set by 9:30 p.m.  Jupiter, the last of the naked-eye planets, is shining bright in the south at 10 p.m. this week and sets a little after 3 a.m.

Last week one of the Phoenix lander’s microscopes took its first image of a single particle of Martian dust. The atomic force microscope, which took these images, can see details as small as one-thousandth the width of a human hair, which is about 100 times smaller than details that the optical microscope on the lander can see. You can see images of the dust and all the other photos from this mission at phoenix.lpl.arizona.edu

Also last week the Cassini spacecraft made a close fly-by of Saturn’s moon Enceladus in an effort to find the source of the moon’s icy jets. The jets of ices, water vapor and trace amounts of organics appear to be coming from deep fractures on the moon. You can see pictures of this mottled moon and all the other photos of the Saturnian system at saturn.jpl.nasa.gov.

Public viewing on the university telescopes is finished for the summer session. Viewing will resume on the first week in September. Please call back in a couple of weeks for more details of the starting dates and times.

Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report.