skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for Monday August 6th to Sunday August 12th.

The moon is new on Sunday the 12th, which is very favorable for this year’s peak of the Perseid Meteor Shower since there will be no interfering moonlight. The Perseids, so named because they appear to come from a point in the constellation Perseus, is a fairly consistent shower, sometimes producing 1 to 2 meteors a minute. The particles that are burning up in the atmosphere are dust of the comet Swift-Tuttle, whose tail crosses the Earth’s orbit. The shower will be good for viewing all night from about 10 p.m. on the night of Sunday the 12th into the morning hours of the 13th. By about 2 a.m. the Perseus will be well above the horizon in the northeast and more meteors will be visible.

Early in the morning hours of Tuesday the 7th, the moon will join Mars and the Pleiades. Mars is currently rising at about 12:30 a.m. Jupiter is visible in the south around 9 p.m. this week, near the bright red-orange star Antares in the constellation Scorpius. Venus and Saturn are now almost completely lost in the glare of the sun.

Over the weekend the Phoenix Mars Lander successfully launched on its way to the red planet. The lander is due to set down in the Martian polar regions in May 2008. You can learn more about the mission at phoenix.lpl.arizona.edu

The next shuttle mission is set to launch on August 8th. The Endeavour will be docking with the International Space Station to deliver and install another segment for the station. On board will be Barbara Morgan, who originally joined NASA as Christa McAuliffe’s back-up for the ill-fated Challenger flight in 1986 and in 1998 was selected as the first educator to be named as a mission specialist astronaut. You can follow the mission at www.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.