skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday August 25th through Monday September 1.

The new moon for the month of August was early on the morning of the 25th and the moon won't reach first quarter until next Tuesday, so we'll have a waxing crescent moon in the early evening skies all week.

Mercury is still low in the west after sunset and is still setting a little less than an hour after the sun.

Mars and Saturn are still close to one another, fairly low in the southwest as night falls. The pair will be at their closest on Wednesday the 27th, when they will be 4 degrees apart. The crescent moon will be between Saturn and Mars on Sunday August 31st, making a nice target for astrophotography.

In the morning skies, Jupiter is now up two hours before the sun, so early risers should be able to spot it in the east before dawn. Venus continues to sink back towards the sun and is up a little over an hour before sunrise, so it is becoming harder to see.

In space anniversaries this week, Monday August 25th marks the 25th anniversary of Voyager 2's flyby of the planet Neptune. Voyager 2 is still the only spacecraft to visit the 8th planet. Just coincidentally, that same day this year, the New Horizons spacecraft crossed Neptune's orbit on its way to exploring the Pluto system next year.

And 40 years ago on September 1st, Pioneer 11 had its close encounter with the planet Jupiter on its way to Saturn. Exactly 5 years later, Pioneer 11 had its flyby of Saturn, becoming the first spacecraft to visit that planet.

Fall semester viewing on UT campus telescope will resume next week. Please check back for information on dates and times.

Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers Report and have a happy and safe Labor Day weekend.