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Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday July 22 through Sunday July 28.

The moon is at third quarter late on Saturday the 27th, so we’ll have a waning gibbous moon for most of this week.

Venus is setting at 9:20 p.m. as it continues to move away from the Sun after its last solar conjunction back in early June.

Mercury is at greatest elongation on Monday and will be setting at 9:50 p.m. that evening. After elongation it will start sinking back towards the Sun and its next solar conjunction.

Saturn is rising at 10:50 p.m. at midweek. Look for Saturn next to the waning gibbous moon on Wednesday night.

Mars is rising at 2:30 a.m. and Jupiter follows at 3:05 a.m.

In space anniversaries this week, Monday July 22 marks 30 years since the final piece of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 impacted the planet Jupiter. The comet was discovered in March 1993 by Carolyn and Eugene Shoemaker and David Levy and was observed to have broken apart into over 20 pieces. Calculations indicated the comet had been captured by Jupiter and that it would impact the giant planet from July 16 to 22, 1994. The impacts were observed with telescopes across the Earth and above it, including UT’s McDonald Observatory, the Keck Observatory in Hawaii, and the Hubble Space Telescope.

And 25 years ago on July 23, Eileen Collins became the first woman to command a space shuttle mission with the launch of Columbia carrying the Chandra x-ray observatory. Chandra is still operating and is expected to have a decade of operational lifespan remaining, although the continuation of the mission is threatened due to budget cuts.

Public viewing at the 16-inch reflector on top of the Physics, Math, and Astronomy building is on Wednesday nights from 9:00 to 10:30 p.m. this summer. PMA is located on the southeast corner of Dean Keeton and Speedway. Take the elevator to the 17th floor and follow the signs to the telescope.

There will be no public viewing at the Painter Hall Telescope this summer. Friday and Saturday night viewing at Painter Hall will resume in the fall semester.

All events are free and open to all ages and no reservations are required. Note that viewing times and availability change throughout the year so please check the schedule before planning a visit. Observing events are weather permitting. Please call 512-232-4265 for weather cancellation information, which is updated 30 to 45 minutes before the scheduled viewing start time.

Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers Report.