skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for Monday July 30th to Sunday August 5th.

The moon is at third quarter on Sunday August 5th.

If you want to catch Venus and Saturn, you will have to look shortly after sunset as they are both now setting before 9:30 p.m. This leaves Jupiter as the only naked eye planet visible in the evening skies. You’ll have to wait until about 1:45 a.m. at midweek to see Mars and Mercury is rising at around 5:45. If you do have a look at Mars, be sure to catch the Pleiades star cluster nearby this week.

The moon will be alongside Uranus on the night of August 1st, so if you’ve never tried to find the 7th planet with binoculars or a small telescope, this alignment might be helpful. Uranus is about three degrees to the right of the moon in the east-southeast a little before midnight. The pair will separate as the night goes on but will still be less than 5 degrees apart by the time dawn breaks.

The dust storms continue on Mars and the amount of dust in the sky above the Spirit rover has increased, although it is not as bad as what the Opportunity rover had last week. Opportunity’s power levels have slightly increased over the past week, but it still doesn’t have enough to begin the descent into Victoria crater. You can follow all of the Mars exploration missions at mars.jpl.nasa.gov

Public viewing at the 16-inch reflector on top of Robert Lee Moore Hall is on Wednesday nights from 9 to 10:30 p.m. 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. August 8th will be the final night for public viewing this summer. Viewing will resume in early September.

Public viewing at the 9 inch refractor at Painter Hall is on Friday and Saturday nights from 9 to 10:30 p.m. Painter Hall is located on 24th street about halfway between Speedway and Guadalupe and is northeast of the UT Tower. August 11th will be the final night for Painter Hall public viewing this summer. Viewing will resume in September.

All events are free and open to all ages and no reservations are required. Note that viewing times and availability change throughout the year. Observing events are weather permitting. Please call 232-4265 for weather cancellation information, which is updated 30 to 60 minutes before viewing start time on nights when public viewing is cancelled.

Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report.