skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday August 18th through Sunday the 24th.

The moon was at third quarter late on Sunday the 17th and will reach the new phase on Monday the 25th, so we'll have a waning crescent moon all of this week.

Mercury is still close to the sun, setting just 40 minutes after sunset, so it will be difficult to observe.

Mars and Saturn are continuing to move towards one another in the southwestern skies shortly after sunset. By midweek they will be lined up with Saturn above Mars and by the end of the week Saturn will start to move to the right of Mars, flipping their arrangement of the past couple of weeks. Mars is setting at 11:40 p.m. at midweek, with Saturn following about 20 minutes later.

In the morning skies, Venus and Jupiter are still quite close to one another, but are up only about 90 minutes before the sun, so you'll need a good view of the eastern horizon to catch them. The pair will be joined by a very thin crescent moon on Saturday morning.

In space exploration news, 10 years after its launch, the Rosetta spacecraft reached its rendezvous target, comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on August 6th. During the 10 years of orbital maneuvers to catch the comet, Rosetta flew past Mars, two asteroids and did three fly-bys of Earth. Rosetta has already returned amazing imagery of the comet nucleus, which you can see at rosetta.esa.int. In the next few months, Rosetta will deploy the Philae lander, which will attach itself to the comet nucleus to study the comet's composition. If successful, it will be the first controlled landing on a comet's nucleus.

Public viewing on UT campus telescopes has finished for the summer session. Fall semester viewing will start in early September.

Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers Report.