Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for Monday February 11th through Sunday the 17th.
The moon is at first quarter late on the night of Wednesday the 13th. On Friday night, the moon will be next to Mars and close to overhead as the sky darkens. Saturn is rising at 7 p.m. this week and is visible most of the night.
The other bright planets are up in the morning before the sunrises. Jupiter is rising at 4:45 a.m. at mid-week and Venus is following at about 5:35 a.m. Mercury is climbing a little higher each day in the morning skies as it heads towards its next elongation.
The space shuttle Atlantis launched last week in a mission to deliver the European Space Agency’s “Columbus” science module to the International Space Station. You can follow the mission at www.nasa.gov
The National Academies Space Studies Board will be holding a panel discussion and public lecture at the University of Texas on February 20th, next Wednesday. The panel discussion will be on the topic of “The Past and Future of Science and Exploration” and will be held in the Avaya auditorium of the ACES building. The discussion will begin at 3:15 p.m. The public lecture will be in Welch Hall room 2.224 at 7:30 and is entitled “The Possibility of Life Elsewhere in the Universe”. The lecture will be given by one of the foremost researchers in astrobiology, Professor Christopher Chyba. You can find out more about these events and see webcasts of past lectures in the series at the group’s website: www7.nationalacademies.org/ssb After the public lecture, both of our campus telescopes will be open to view a total lunar eclipse.
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.