Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday August 20th through Sunday August 26th.
The full moon for the month of August occurs on Sunday the 26th, so we'll have a waxing gibbous moon for all of this week. This full moon is known as the Grain Moon and the Green Corn Moon.
The evening skies continue to be rich with bright naked-eye planets to observe this week.
Venus has passed its point of greatest elongation, so now it will start to slowly sink back towards the sun. Venus is currently setting at 10 p.m. and is now slightly less than 50% illuminated so it will look like a tiny first quarter moon in a telescope.
Jupiter is up in the southwest after sunset and is setting at 11:40 p.m.
Saturn is high in the south in the early evenings this week and is setting at 2:45 a.m. Look for Saturn to the lower left of the moon on Monday evening.
Mars is in the south-southeast at sundown and is setting at 4:30 a.m.
In the morning skies, Mercury is at its greatest elongation on Sunday the 26th and is rising at 5:40 a.m. that day - almost an hour and a half before the sun. Early risers with good view of the eastern horizon might have a good chance of seeing the innermost planet this weekend.
In space anniversaries this week, Saturday August 25th marks 15 years since the launch of the Space Infrared Telescope Facility, later renamed the Spitzer Space Telescope. Spitzer's primary mission ran for over 5 years until its liquid helium ran out, but continues to operate as the Spitzer Warm Mission.
Public viewing on UT campus telescopes has finished for the summer. Fall semester viewing on both telescopes will start in early September. Please check back for details on starting dates and times.
Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers Report.