skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday July 26th through Sunday August 1st.

The moon is at third quarter on Saturday the 31st so we’ll have a waning gibbous moon for most of the week and we’ll begin the waning crescent phase on Sunday.

After passing close to Venus a couple of weeks ago, Mars is now moving past the bright star Regulus in the constellation Leo the Lion. Mars and Regulus will be less than a degree apart on Thursday night and will be setting around 9:40 p.m. that evening.

Venus is low in the west at sundown and is setting at 10:10 p.m. this week.

Saturn rises at 8:30 p.m. as it heads towards opposition early next week. Jupiter follows at 9:35 p.m. and will reach opposition later in August.

Mercury is in superior conjunction on Sunday and will move behind the Sun from the Earth’s perspective. After conjunction, Mercury will start to emerge into the early evening skies as we move further into August.

In space anniversaries this week, Monday July 26 marks 50 years since the launch of the Apollo 15 mission with astronauts David Scott, James Irwin, and Alfred Worden. Scott and Irwin were on the lunar surface for nearly three days and performed three EVAs outside the lunar lander for a total of 19 hours. Apollo 15 was the first mission to carry the Lunar Roving Vehicle which the astronauts used on all three of their EVAs. The mission ended on August 7 when the crew splashed down in the northern Pacific Ocean where they were recovered by the USS Okinawa. Apollo 15 was the first lunar mission where the astronauts were not required to quarantine after their return to Earth.

All public viewing events on UT campus telescopes are currently on hold. 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, you can tune in to McDonald Observatory live streams from west Texas. You can view past events on the McDonald Observatory YouTube channel and you can follow the observatory on TwitterFacebook and at McDonaldObservatory.org to be notified of future events.

Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers Report.