skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for Monday February 8th through Sunday the 14th.

The new moon for the month of February is on Sunday the 14th so we will have a waning crescent moon all of this week.

In the hour before sunrise on the 12th, look for a very thin crescent moon about two degrees from Mercury in the east-southeast. The two brightest planets in our sky are getting closer and closer to one another low in the western skies shortly after sunset. Venus has been gradually moving away from the sun, while Jupiter has been sinking towards the sun. The pair will continue to move closer to each other this week until they reach their closest point next week. Mars is high in the east as the sky darkens. Saturn is rising at 9:20 p.m. at midweek.

The Space Shuttle Endeavour launched early Monday morning on a mission to the International Space Station and the two spacecraft docked late on Tuesday night. The shuttle is delivering the new Tranquility node and a seven-windowed cupola to the station.

The Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft was originally due to launch Wednesday morning but was scrubbed due to high winds but they will attempt another launch Thursday. This new mission is the first spacecraft in the NASA "Living With a Star" program which will study the sun and its effects on Earth. SDO is expected to deliver 1.5 terabytes of data per day. You can learn more about the mission at www.nasa.gov/sdo

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.