skywatchers report

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

The moon is at third quarter on Wednesday the 30th, making the early evenings dark and moonlight-free this week.

Mercury and Neptune are about three degrees apart in the west-southwest skies shortly after sunset. Uranus is a little above the pair and is a little easier to pick out of the twilight with a small telescope. More photos of Mercury from the Messenger spacecraft have been posted at the mission’s website, which you can see at messenger.jhuapl.edu

Mars is high in the east as twilight ends and is up most of the night, setting at about 4:30 a.m. Saturn is rising at 8 p.m. at midweek and is visible the rest of the night.

If you’re up in the hour or so before sunrise this week, you can watch the two brightest planets in our sky – Venus and Jupiter - move closer and closer together until they are just half a degree apart on Friday morning.

Public viewing at the 16-inch reflector on top of Robert Lee Moore Hall is on Wednesday nights 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 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.

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