Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday August 22nd through Sunday August 27th.
As pretty much everyone knows by now, the moon was new on August 21st and totally eclipsed the sun along a path from the west coast to the east coast of the United States. The next total solar eclipse visible in the US will be in less than 7 years on April 8, 2024 and for that eclipse, the path of totality will pass right through Central Texas.
The moon will reach first quarter next Tuesday, so we'll have a waxing crescent moon in our early evening skies for the remainder of this week.
Mercury is in inferior conjunction with the sun on Saturday the 26th when it will move between the earth and sun and re-emerge into our morning skies.
Jupiter is now getting low in the west-southwest at sunset so time is running short to catch it in the evenings before it goes into conjunction with the sun. Jupiter is setting at 10:30 p.m. at midweek. Look for a thin crescent moon a few degrees from Jupiter on Thursday night.
Saturn is still in the south at sunset and is setting at 2:00 a.m. so there are still several hours of darkness to observe the ringed planet.
Venus is up in the pre-dawn sky and rises at 4:25 a.m. Look for the bright stars Castor and Pollux of the constellation Gemini nearby.
Mars is still pretty close to the sun and is rising at 6:20 a.m., about 40 minutes before sunrise.
In space anniversaries this week, it was 55 years ago on August 27th that the Mariner 2 spacecraft was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Three and a half months later on December 14, Mariner 2 became the first spacecraft to perform a successful flyby of another planet when it passed a little over 20,000 miles from Venus.
Public viewing on UT campus telescopes has finished for the summer. Fall semester viewing will start in early September.
Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers Report.