Skywatchers Report

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

The new moon for the month of July is Monday the 20th and we’ll have a waxing crescent moon in the early evening skies for the whole week since the moon will reach first quarter early next week.

Jupiter will rise at 7:45 p.m. at midweek, now a little before sunset after passing opposition last week.

Saturn is at opposition on Monday and will rise at sunset and set at sunrise that day.

Mars is rising at 12:15 a.m. and has nearly reached -1 in magnitude.

In the morning skies, Venus is rising at 3:45 a.m. and Mercury will be at greatest elongation on Wednesday when it will rise at 5:15 a.m. After that, Mercury will start sinking back towards the sun and its next solar conjunction.

Comet NEOWISE is continuing to climb a little higher each evening although it will start get fade as it gets farther from the sun. Look for the comet low in the northwest between the bowl of the Big Dipper and the horizon. Finder charts are available at stardate.org and nasa.gov

And speaking of bright comets, 25 years ago on July 23rd, Alan Hale and Thomas Bopp discovered the comet that would go on to be named after them. The comet became visible to the naked eye the by May 1996 and by early 1997 it was bright enough to be easily seen from even the most light-polluted skies. Eventually the comet moved out of naked eye visibility and into the outer solar system. It is expected to return to the inner solar system around the year 4385.

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.