Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for July 9th through the 15th.
The moon is at last quarter on Friday the 13th.
Early morning observers can catch most of the planets visible by the naked eye around 5:30 am in the east this week. Venus is the highest and brightest of the bunch. Below and to the left of Venus is Saturn. These two planets will be at their closest point on Sunday morning. Nearby is the reddish star Aldebaran.
Closer to the horizon, you can see giant Jupiter and tiny Mercury. Mercury is at its greatest elongation west on Monday the 9th. Mercury and Jupiter will be at their closest point on Friday morning.
The naked eye planet missing from this bunch is of course Mars, which is still lighting up our evening skies.
In spaceflight news, the Space Shuttle Atlantis is due to lift off on Thursday morning on a mission to deliver a new airlock to the International Space Station. You can follow the mission at spaceflight.nasa.gov
Wednesday night public viewing is held at Robert Lee Moore Hall and will begin at 9:00 p.m. The building is located at the southeast corner of Dean Keeton (formerly 26th street) and Speedway. Take the elevators to the 17th floor and follow the signs to the telescope.
Viewing at the Painter Hall telescope for the general public is on Saturdays from 9:00 to 11:00 p.m. and Friday nights are open for UT students, faculty and staff from 9:00 to 10:00 p.m. Painter Hall is located on 24th street about halfway between Speedway and Guadalupe.
All events are free and open to all ages and no reservations are required. Observing events are weather permitting.
Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers' report.