skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday July 20th through Sunday July 26th.

The moon is at first quarter late on the night of Thursday the 23rd so we'll start the week with a waxing crescent moon and finish with a waxing gibbous moon.

Mercury is in superior conjunction with the sun on Thursday and will pass behind the sun from the Earth's point of view and will emerge into our early evening skies over the remainder of the month.

Venus and Jupiter are still together in the western skies after sunset and are setting a little before 10 p.m. Look for the bright star Regulus of the constellation Leo above the pair.

Saturn is up in the south at sundown and is setting at 2:30 a.m. this week. Look for Saturn near the waxing gibbous moon on Saturday night.

Mars is still rising less than an hour before the sun and is difficult to observe.

In space anniversaries this week, July 23rd marks the 20th anniversary of the discovery by Alan Hale and Thomas Bopp of the comet that would carry their names. The comet was discovered while it was between Jupiter and Saturn and nearly two years from its closest approach to the Earth and the Sun in spring 1997.

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 so please check the schedule before planning a visit. Observing events are weather permitting. Please call 512-232-4265 for weather cancellation information, which is updated 30 to 45 minutes before the scheduled viewing start time.

Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers Report.