skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday August 16th through Sunday August 22nd.

The full moon for the month of August is on Sunday the 22nd so we’ll have a waxing gibbous moon all this week. This full moon is known as Grain Moon and the Green Corn Moon.

Mercury and Mars will move closer to one another low in the west for the first part of the week and then will slowly move apart for the remainder of the week. The two planets will be one tenth of a degree apart on Wednesday night when they will be setting around 9:00 p.m.

Venus is shining brightly in the west-southwest and is setting at 9:50 p.m.

Saturn is rising at 7:05 p.m. and setting at 5:40 a.m. at midweek so it is still visible for most of the night. Look for Saturn above the moon on Friday night.

Jupiter is at opposition on Thursday night so it will rise at sunset and set at sunrise and will be visible for the entire night. Jupiter will be to the upper left of the moon on Saturday night.

In space anniversaries this week, Tuesday August 17th marks 55 years since the launch of the Pioneer 7 spacecraft. Pioneers 6 through 9 were designed to make the first detailed measurements of the characteristics of interplanetary space, including the solar wind and cosmic rays. Contact was made with Pioneers 6, 7, and 8 through the 1990s and they are thought to still be operational while Pioneer 9 failed at some point in the 1980s.

All public viewing events on UT campus telescopes are currently on hold and plans for the fall semester are currently under discussion. 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, you can tune in to McDonald Observatory live streams from west Texas. You can view past events on the McDonald Observatory YouTube channel and you can follow the observatory on TwitterFacebook and at McDonaldObservatory.org to be notified of future events.

Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers Report.