Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for Monday February 4th through Sunday the 10th.
The moon is new late in the evening on Wednesday the 6th. On Monday morning, the very slim crescent moon joined the two brightest planets, Venus and Jupiter, which are slowly moving apart after their picturesque close approach last week.
With the new moon this month comes a solar eclipse. This eclipse is what is called an annular eclipse, which is where the moon is too far away, and therefore too small in our skies, to completely eclipse the sun, leaving a ring of sunlight around the moon. The best view of the eclipse will be from Antarctica and the southern Pacific Ocean. A partial eclipse will be visible in parts of New Zealand and Australia, and people at McMurdo Station, Antarctica will get to see an 82% eclipsed sun.
In the evening skies, Mercury has now disappeared and is in inferior conjunction with the sun on Wednesday. Mercury will then re-emerge into the morning skies.
Mars is still high in the sky at sunset, above and to the left of Orion the Hunter. Saturn is rising at 7:30 p.m. and is well-placed for evening viewing.
This Saturday the 16th Annual Great Lecture in Astronomy will be given by Dr. David Lambert, Director of McDonald Observatory. The talk will be at 1 p.m. in the Avaya Auditorium in the ACES building on the University of Texas campus. The talk is entitled “Heaven’s Kitchens – Primordial Soup, Stellar Entrées and Galactic Dessert” and is free and open to the public. For more information, please see the Astronomy Department website at www.as.utexas.edu
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.