Skywatchers Report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday July 13th through Sunday July 19th.

The moon was at third quarter late last week and will reach new moon early next week, so we’ll have a waning crescent moon in our early morning skies all of this week.

Jupiter is at opposition late on the night of Monday the 13th into the morning of Tuesday the 14th. When at opposition, a planet will rise at sunset and set at sunrise and will be visible all night, so this week, Jupiter will be rising at about 8:15 p.m.

Saturn is following close to Jupiter and will be rising at 8:40 p.m. as it heads towards opposition next week. Mars is rising at 12:30 a.m. this week and is continuing to grow in angular size and brightness.

In the early morning sky, Venus is rising at 3:50 a.m. and will be alongside the crescent moon on Friday morning. Mercury is rising at 5:25 a.m. and will be alongside the very thin crescent moon on Sunday morning.

If you’ve been seeing photos of Comet NEOWISE and want to try to see it yourself, the comet is about to swing from the early morning skies into the early evening skies so you won’t have to lose as much sleep to see it. Later in the week, the comet will be visible low in the northwest under the Big Dipper. Check out stardate.org for more information and a finder chart.

In space anniversaries this week, Tuesday July 14th marks the 55th anniversary of Mariner 4 becoming the first spacecraft to do a fly-by of the planet Mars. The spacecraft returned the first close-up views of the Red Planet, revealing it to be a dry, cratered world with a thinner atmosphere than expected.

All public viewing events on UT campus telescopes are on hold for the time being. 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, McDonald Observatory has been live-streaming night sky tours from west Texas! You can view past events on the McDonald Observatory YouTube channel and you can follow the observatory on Twitter and Facebook to be notified of future events.

Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers Report.