skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday July 12th through Sunday July 18th.

The moon is at first quarter on Saturday the 17th so we’ll have a waxing crescent moon in our early evening skies for the week and start into the waxing gibbous phase over the weekend.

Venus and Mars are still close to one another this week and will be separated by only half a degree on Tuesday. Both planets will be setting around 10:15 p.m. at midweek. Look for the thin waxing crescent moon above the pair on Monday evening.

Saturn rises at 9:30 p.m. at midweek and Jupiter follows at 10:35 p.m.

Mercury is rising at 5:20 a.m. at midweek which is still a little over an hour before sunrise so you might be able to pick it out of the pre-dawn sky if you have a good view of the eastern horizon.

In space anniversaries this week, Sunday July 18th marks 55 years since the launch of the Gemini 10 mission with astronauts John Young and Michael Collins. The mission was the first to rendezvous with two different objects in orbit – first the Agena 10 booster rocket and then with the Agena 8 rocket. Also during the mission, Michael Collins performed a spacewalk with the Agena 8 and became the first person to meet another spacecraft while in orbit. Collins next mission was as the Command Module Pilot on Apollo 11 and John Young would later command the Apollo 16 mission to the moon and the first space shuttle mission in 1981.

Also this week, Thursday July 15 marks 10 years since the Dawn spacecraft entered orbit around Vesta and became the first spacecraft to orbit an object in the asteroid belt.

All public viewing events on UT campus telescopes are currently on hold. We will update the website outreach.as.utexas.edu with a new schedule when we are able to resume viewing.

While you’re waiting for in-person telescope viewing to resume, you can tune in to McDonald Observatory live streams from west Texas. You can view past events on the McDonald Observatory YouTube channel and you can follow the observatory on TwitterFacebook and at McDonaldObservatory.org to be notified of future events.

Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers Report.