skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for Tuesday July 17th through Sunday the 22nd.

The moon is at first quarter phase in the early hours of Sunday the 22nd.

On Tuesday evening, look for the crescent moon above and to the left of brilliant Venus, which is sinking lower each night. Saturn and the star Regulus in the constellation Leo can be seen to the lower right of Venus.

The bright object in the south-southeast is Jupiter, with Scorpius visible just to the gas giant’s right. Mars is now rising at around 2 a.m. and is slowly increasing in brightness.

Mercury is at greatest elongation on Friday the 20th. If you’re up in the early morning hours looking for Mercury, you will see a very recognizable winter constellation to the planet’s right – Orion the Hunter.

The Mars rovers have been feeling the effects of large dust storms on the Red Planet. Opportunity, which was supposed to begin to descend into Victoria Crater a couple of weeks ago, has been experiencing very low power levels because of the dust on its solar panels. Spirit, however, had its solar panels cleaned by a gust of wind, and it’s power levels are on the rise. You can see the latest on the exploration of Mars at mars.jpl.nasa.gov.

Public viewing at the 16-inch reflector on top of Robert Lee Moore Hall is on Wednesday nights from 9 to 10:30 p.m. RLM is located on the southeast corner of Dean Keeton and Speedway. Take the elevator to the 17th floor and follow the signs to the telescope.

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.