skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for Monday July 2nd to Sunday July 8th.

The moon is at third quarter on Saturday the 7th.

Saturn and Venus are still very close to one another in the western skies after sunset this week, but they will slowly separate as the week progresses. Both are sinking lower each night and are setting at around 11 p.m. at the end of the week.

Although we’re losing the sights of Saturn early in the evening now, Jupiter is up in the southeast as darkness falls. Even with a small telescope you can follow the motions of Jupiter’s four largest moons, collectively known as the Galilean satellites because they were first noted by Galileo Galilei with his relatively low power telescope. Mars is currently rising at 2:30 a.m. Mercury is starting to emerge from the glare of the sun and is visible low in the east in the morning skies.

The Dawn spacecraft is due to launch on July 7th on its mission to study two of the largest objects in the asteroid belt – Vesta and Ceres. The Dawn mission will be the first to go into orbit around more than one body. It will first visit Vesta and study that asteroid for eight months, and then depart Vesta to begin studying Ceres. This is possible because of Dawn’s ion propulsion system. To learn more about the mission and to follow its progress, logon to dawn.jpl.nasa.gov

There will be no Wednesday night viewing on July 4th. Regular Wednesday night public viewing  will resume on July 11th.

Public viewing at the 9 inch refractor at Painter Hall is on Friday and Saturday nights from 9 to 10:30 p.m. Painter Hall is located on 24th street about halfway between Speedway and Guadalupe and is northeast of the UT Tower.

All events are free and open to all ages and no reservations are required. Note that viewing times and availability change throughout the year. Observing events are weather permitting. Please call 232-4265 for weather cancellation information, which is updated 30 to 60 minutes before viewing start time on nights when public viewing is cancelled.

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