Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday February 13th through Sunday February 19th.
The moon is at third quarter on Saturday night so we'll have a waning gibbous moon for most of the week and a waning crescent moon on Sunday.
Venus will reach its greatest illuminated extent on Thursday night, meaning that it will be at its brightest for this evening apparition. If you look at Venus in a telescope you will see that only about 25% of it is lit, but because it is fairly close to earth at the moment, that crescent is large and therefore reflects a lot of sunlight. Venus is setting at 9:30 p.m. this week.
Mars is still above and to the left of Venus and is setting at 9:50 p.m.
Jupiter is now rising at 10:25 p.m. as it moves into place for a good early evening show for the later part of the spring. Look for the moon to make a nice pairing with Jupiter on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.
Saturn is rising at 3:20 a.m., almost four hours before sunrise.
Mercury is rising at 6:35 a.m. at midweek, just 35 minutes before the sun.
In space anniversaries this week, Saturday February 18th marks the 40th anniversary of the test flight of the first space shuttle orbiter, Enterprise. The Enterprise never flew into space, but was used for various tests in the beginning of the space shuttle program. Enterprise later became a centerpiece of the National Air and Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center and then in 2012 it was relocated to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York.
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 so please check the schedule before planning a visit. Observing events are weather permitting. Please call 512-232-4265 for weather cancellation information, which is updated 30 to 45 minutes before the scheduled viewing start time.
Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers Report.