skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for Monday January 26th through Sunday February 1st.

The moon was new late on the night of Sunday the 25th and will reach first quarter on Monday February 2nd, so we will see a waxing crescent moon as we go through the week. If you were in the right place at the right time when the moon was new, you would have been able to see an annular solar eclipse. In an annular eclipse, the angular size of the moon is not great enough to totally eclipse the sun, and a ring of sunlight is left around the moon at greatest eclipse. Images of the eclipse can be seen at spaceweather.com

Many of the planets are still clustered around the sun and are not easily visible. Mercury and Mars are rising about an hour before the sun early in the week and Jupiter has just passed behind the sun. Neptune is nearing conjunction with the sun and sets just an hour after sunset.

Venus is shining very bright in the southwest at sunset. If you look at Venus with a telescope right now, you might be surprised to see that it is only half lit. Because Venus is between us and the sun, it, as well as Mercury, shows phases like we see with the moon. Just a few degrees below Venus is Uranus, which you will need binoculars or a small telescope to see. Look for the crescent moon below Venus on the 29th and above it on the 30th. Saturn is rising at 9 p.m. and is visible for the rest of the night.

Public viewing at the 16-inch reflector on top of Robert Lee Moore Hall is on Wednesday nights currently from 7 to 9 p.m. RLM 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.

Public viewing at the 9 inch refractor at Painter Hall is on Friday and Saturday nights currently from 7 to 9 p.m. Painter Hall is located on 24th street about halfway between Speedway and Guadalupe and is northeast of the UT Tower. To get to the telescope, take the elevator to the 5th floor and exit to the left. Follow the 5th floor hallway to the end and take the staircase through the double doors on the left. Once you reach the 6th floor, go to your right and follow the signs up to the telescope.

All events are free and open to all ages and no reservations are required. Note that viewing times and availability change throughout the year. Observing events are weather permitting. Please call 232-4265 for weather cancellation information, which is updated 30 to 60 minutes before the scheduled viewing start time when a viewing is cancelled.

Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report.