Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday August 13th through Sunday August 19th.
The moon is at first quarter early on Saturday morning, so we'll have a waxing crescent moon in our early evening skies for most of the week and the beginning of the waxing gibbous phase on the weekend.
Venus is at its greatest elongation in our evening skies on Friday the 17th and is setting at 10:15 p.m. this week. Look for the thin crescent moon above Venus on Tuesday night.
Jupiter is shining brightly the southwest as night falls and is setting a little after midnight this week. Look for the crescent moon to the right of Jupiter on Thursday night and above and to the left of Jupiter on Friday evening. This is also a good week to catch the shadows of one or more of Jupiter's moons transiting the gas giant if you have access to a telescope.
Saturn is up in the south-southeast at nightfall and is setting at 3:10 a.m. this week, so there is still plenty of dark time to observe the ringed planet.
Mars is up in the southeast and is still shining very brightly after its closest approach to the Earth a couple of weeks ago. Mars is setting at 5:00 a.m. this week, so it is still visible for most of the night.
Mercury is beginning to emerge from conjunction in the morning skies and is rising about 45 minutes before the sun.
Over this past weekend the Parker Solar Probe launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida on its mission to study the sun. The probe will get closer than any other human made object to the sun through of series of 24 orbits over the course of several years. On its final pass it will get to within 3.7 million miles of the sun and will be accelerated to 430,000 mph, which will make it the fastest object ever sent into space by humans. You can learn more about the mission at parkersolarprobe.jhuapl.edu.
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.