skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for July 16th through the 22nd.

The moon is new on Friday the 20th.

Four planets are still visible in the skies before dawn and will be joined by the very slim crescent moon early this week. Looking east at about 5:30 in the morning Wednesday, you can see Mercury just above the horizon with Jupiter just above and to the right. Looking a little higher you will next encounter the waning crescent moon just two days from new. Continuing up, you will next see Venus, still at about magnitude -4, with Saturn above and a little to the right. Also nearby is the red giant star Aldebaran. Just peeking over the horizon, you may also recognize the familiar shape of the winter constellation Orion. Above Venus and Saturn you can see the Pleiades open star cluster, which looks like a miniature Big Dipper.

Mars is still the jewel of the evening skies. It can be seen in the south at about 10 p.m. Nearby is the reddish star Antares, whose name, appropriately translates to "rival of Mars", although it can't quite challenge the red planet in terms of brightness right now.

In spaceflight news, the Space Shuttle Atlantis successfully deployed the new airlock system on the International Space Station last weekend. 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.