skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday January 31st through Sunday February 6th.

The new moon for the month of February is late on the night of February 2nd so we will have a waning crescent moon for the first few days of the week and a waxing crescent moon for the remainder. Look for a thin crescent moon to pair up with Jupiter on the night of Sunday the 6th.

Jupiter is high in the west-southwest at sunset and it setting at 9:45 p.m. at midweek. About an hour later, Saturn rises in the east and is visible for the remainder of the night. For early risers, Venus is shining brightly in the southeast before dawn after rising at about 4:30 a.m. Mercury is up less than an hour before the sun and may be difficult to pick out of the sun's glare. Mars is in conjunction with the Sun on Friday the 4th and will pass from the evening skies into the morning skies.

The Space Shuttle Discovery is expected to return to the launch pad this week and is scheduled to launch on February 24th. This mission was delayed from last year after concerns over cracking in the foam insulation on the orange external tank. This is expected to be the final flight of the Space Shuttle Discovery. To learn more about the mission and crew, logon to www.nasa.gov

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.