Skywatchers Report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday August 10th through Sunday August 16th.

The moon will be at third quarter on Tuesday the 11th and then will be a waning crescent until it reaches new moon next week.

Jupiter and Saturn are visible in the southeast as night falls and will be visible most of the night. Jupiter is setting at 4:30 a.m. and Saturn follows at 5:10 a.m.

Mars is rising at 11:15 p.m. at midweek and is now at -1.4 in magnitude and over 16 arcseconds in size as our two planets continue to move closer to one another.

Venus is still shining brightly in the pre-dawn sky and is rising at 3:30 a.m. Mercury is now too close to the sun to see with the unaided eye. Look for Venus alongside the crescent moon on Saturday morning before sunrise.

The Perseid meteor shower peaks in the early morning hours of Wednesday the 13th, although the third quarter moon will interfere with this year’s viewing. The Perseids get their name because they appear to come from a point in the constellation Perseus, which is fully above the horizon around midnight. These meteors come from material shed by the comet Swift-Tuttle and are usually one of the more prolific showers of the year when the moon doesn’t interfere with viewing.

In space anniversaries this week, Wednesday the 12th marks 15 years since the launch of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The spacecraft entered orbit around Mars on March 10, 2006 and continues to operate and do science, in addition to acting as an important relay for ground missions at the Red Planet.

All public viewing events on UT campus telescopes are on hold for the remainder of 2020. 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.