skywatchers report

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

The new moon for the month of July is late on Wednesday night or early Thursday morning, depending on your time zone. We'll see a thin waxing crescent moon in the evening skies for the remainder of the week and weekend.

Mercury is getting very close to the sun as it heads toward conjunction with the sun late next week. Mercury is setting just half an hour after the sun at midweek.

Mars is high in the southwest at sunset and is setting just a little after midnight. Saturn is still near Spica in the constellation Virgo and is setting just before 1 a.m. at midweek.

Jupiter and Venus are still near one another in the morning skies with Jupiter rising at 3:10 a.m., followed by Venus at 3:50 a.m. Look for the red star Aldebaran making a thin triangle with the two brightest planets in our sky.

If you get up early to observe Jupiter with a telescope over the next month and a half, keep your eye out for shadows of Jupiter's four largest moons transiting the gas giant. You can often catch one shadow on Jupiter, but for the next six weeks or so there will be a large number of double shadow transits when two of the large moons will cast shadows on to Jupiter's disc. You can find online applets for timings of these events by searching on 'Jupiter moon shadow transits'.

Public viewing at the 16-inch reflector on top of Robert Lee Moore Hall is on Wednesday nights from 9:00 to 10:30 p.m. this summer. 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 9:00 to 10:30 p.m. this summer. Painter Hall is located on 24th street about halfway between Speedway and Guadalupe and is northeast of the UT Tower. To get to the telescope, take the elevator to the 5th floor and exit to the left. Follow the 5th floor hallway to the end and take the staircase through the double doors on the left. Once you reach the 6th floor, go to your right and follow the signs up to the telescope.

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 the scheduled start time when a viewing is cancelled.

Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers Report.