skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday September 13th through Sunday September 19th.

The moon is at first quarter on the afternoon of Monday the 13th and will reach full next Monday, so we will see a waxing gibbous moon all week.

Mars is now setting just 20 minutes after the sun as it heads towards solar conjunction in a few weeks.

Mercury is at greatest elongation late on Monday night and is setting a little over an hour after the sun most of the week. Mercury will move towards the bright star Spica in the constellation Virgo over the course of this week.

Venus is still up in the west-southwest at sundown and is setting at 9:30 p.m. at midweek.

Saturn is in the southeast at sunset and is setting at 3:45 a.m. at midweek. Look for Saturn to the upper left of the moon on Thursday night.

Jupiter is also up in the southeast at sunset and is lower, but brighter, than Saturn in the evening twilight. Look for Jupiter to the upper left of the moon on Friday night.

In space anniversaries this week, Thursday September 16th marks 25 years since the launch of the Space Shuttle Atlantis on its 17th flight. The shuttle docked with the Russian space station Mir two days after launch and the spacecraft remained linked for 5 days to exchange supplies, science experiments, and crew members. Astronaut Shannon Lucid joined the Atlantis crew and astronaut John Blaha transferred to Mir where he would remain for four months. When Shannon Lucid returned to Earth, her overall mission time on Mir and Atlantis totaled 188 days which would be the longest single mission stay of a US astronaut onboard the Russian space station.

All public viewing events on UT campus telescopes are currently on hold through September. We hope to resume our in-person public programs later in the fall, so please check back for more information as we continue to monitor the situation.

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.