Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for August 22nd through the 28th.
The moon is at last quarter on Friday August 26th. The moon will be about six degrees from Mars in the eastern skies on the night of the 24th. The moon will pass less than half a degree south of the Pleiades open star cluster on the night of the 25th.
Early risers can catch Mercury at its greatest elongation in the morning hours of the 23rd. Saturn is visible about 7 degrees above Mercury.
In the evening skies, Venus and Jupiter can be seen in the west, with Jupiter being the higher of the two. The two planets will be moving closer to one another for the rest of the month.
Mars is now rising at about 11:30 p.m. at mid-week. The red planet has brightened to around magnitude -0.8.
Some of you may have received an email, or perhaps heard from a friend, that on August 27th Mars will be spectacular and will look as large as the full moon. Actually, the close approach of Mars described in the message took place in August 2003, not 2005. The description of Mars looking as large as the full moon was poorly worded in at least one version of the email and gives an incorrect impression. Mars will, however, be making a close approach to the earth at the end of October and will be quite bright, but will not appear as large as the full moon. Even at its closest, Mars will still only just look like a very bright, faintly orange, star. For more information on Mars’ closest approach this year, go to spaceweather.com
Public viewing is finished for the summer session. Fall viewing will resume in September. Please check back in a few weeks for starting dates and times and information on locations.
Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report.