skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for January 28th through February 3rd.

The full moon for the month of January is Monday the 28th. This moon is sometimes called the Cold Moon or the Moon After Yule.

Jupiter and Saturn are still the main show this week and will continue to dazzle for several months to come. Mars is still in our western skies at sunset, but it's disk has shrunk to a size where almost no detail can be seen. Mars will be very close to the earth again in August of next year and very favorable for viewing in telescopes. Mercury and Venus are both too close to the sun to be observed as are Uranus and Neptune.

With Jupiter quite large in Earth telescopes right now, astronomers are getting a rare opportunity to observe the collision of two large storms in the gas giant's atmosphere. One of the spots is a large white oval storm similar to a hurricane that has been observed for over 70 years. This storm is in the process of colliding with Jupiter's more famous storm, the Great Red Spot which is two to three times the size of the Earth. For more information and links to Red Spot transit times, check out www.spaceweather.com

The telescope at Robert Lee Moore hall is open to the public on Wednesday nights at 7 p.m. The building is located on the southeast corner of Dean Keeton (formerly 26th street) and Speedway. Take the elevator to the 17th floor and follow the signs to the telescope.

The telescope at Painter hall is open on Fridays for UT students, faculty and staff from 7 to 8 p.m. and Saturdays are open to the general public from 7 to 9 p.m. Painter Hall is located on 24th street about half way between Speedway and Guadalupe.

All events are free and open to all ages and no reservations are required. Observing events are weather permitting.

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