Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday July 30th through Sunday August 5th.
The moon is at third quarter on the night of Saturday August 4th so we'll have a waning gibbous moon for most of the week and start into the waning crescent moon phase as the weekend ends.
Mercury is rapidly sinking back towards the sun and is mostly lost in the sun's glare as it heads towards conjunction next week.
Venus is still shining brightly in the west at sunset even though only a little over half of the planet is currently lit by the sun. Venus is setting at 10:35 p.m. at midweek.
Jupiter is in the southwest at sunset and is setting at 1:00 a.m. this week.
Further to the east, Saturn is up in the south-southeast at nightfall and is setting at 4:10 a.m.
Mars is rising just a little before sunset now that it has passed opposition. Earth and Mars will be at their closest for this apparition late on Monday night into Tuesday morning when the two planets will be separated by 35.8 million miles or 57.6 million kilometers, the best close approach since 2003.
In space anniversaries - last Sunday, July 29th, marked the 60th anniversary of the creation of NASA, when President Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Act. The agency became operational a few months later on October 1, 1958.
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. Please arrive at RLM before 10 p.m to ensure access to the building. Next Wednesday, August 8, will be the final week of summer session viewing at the RLM telescope.
Public viewing at the Painter Hall Telescope has finished for the summer.
Fall semester viewing on both telescopes will start in early 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 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.