skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday July 27th through Sunday August 2nd.

The second full moon for the month of July is on the morning of Friday July 31st, so we'll start the week with a waxing gibbous moon and finish with a waning gibbous moon over the weekend. The second full moon in a calendar month is now typically called a Blue Moon.

Mercury is emerging from conjunction with the sun and is joining Venus and Jupiter very low in the west after sunset. Mercury is setting at 9:00 p.m., followed by Venus at 9:15 p.m. and Jupiter at 9:30 p.m.

Saturn is still high in the south at sunset and is visible for a good part of the night, setting at 2:00 a.m.

Mars is rising at 5:45 a.m., about an hour before sunrise.

In space anniversaries this week, July 30 marks the 405th anniversary of Galileo's observation of Saturn's rings, although his telescope's quality wasn't good enough to discern their true nature. Galileo proposed that Saturn had two large moons on either side of the main body, but 45 years later with a better telescope Christiaan Huygens proposed that Saturn was surrounded by a thin, flat ring. The Cassini spacecraft continues to observe the Saturnian system, including the rings, with its mission due to end in 2017 after 13 years in orbit and 20 years after launch.

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.