Skywatchers Report

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

The moon is at first quarter on Monday the 27th and then will be in the waxing gibbous phase for the rest of the week until it reaches full at the beginning of next week.

Jupiter is rising at 7:15 p.m. followed by Saturn at 7:45 p.m. at midweek so both of the giant planets are well-placed for evening viewing. Both planets will be near the moon on Saturday night.

Mars is rising just a little before midnight at midweek as it continues to move towards closest approach to Earth in October.

In the morning skies, Venus is rising at 3:35 a.m. and Mercury is up at 5:30 a.m. and is now sinking back towards the sun.

With the coming close approach of Mars, several new missions to the Red Planet have launched recently or will be launching soon. The United Arab Emirates launched the Hope Mars orbiter on July 19 and China followed on July 23rd, launching the Tianwen-1 mission that includes an orbiter, lander, and rover. The NASA Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover is due to launch this week – check out nasa.gov for up-to-date information. The European Space Agency and Russian Roscosmos Agency’s ExoMars mission has been delayed to 2022, the next time Mars and Earth will be close to one another for optimal launch windows.

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.