skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday July 28th through Sunday August 3rd.

The moon is at first quarter on the night of Sunday August 3rd so we'll have a waxing crescent moon for the whole week.

With Jupiter moving into the morning skies, only Mars and Saturn are left in the early evening for viewing. The two planets will slowly move closer to one another in the southwestern skies over the next few weeks. Mars is setting at 12:30 a.m. this week, followed by Saturn at 1:20 a.m. Look for the moon to the right of Mars on Saturday and between Mars and Saturn on Sunday.

The rest of the planets visible to the unaided eye are all up in the morning skies. Venus is still up nearly two hours before sunrise, but is slowly starting to sink back towards the sun as it heads towards conjunction in October.

Mercury is rapidly moving back towards the sun as it heads towards conjunction next week. Jupiter is emerging from conjunction and is rising only half an hour before the sun.

In space anniversaries this week, August 3rd will mark the 10th anniversary of the launch of the Messenger spacecraft which later became the first mission to orbit the planet Mercury, where it still operates today. You can see photos and learn more about the mission at messenger.jhuapl.edu

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.