Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday February 20th through Sunday February 26th.
The moon was at third quarter last weekend and will be new on Sunday, so we'll have a waning crescent moon in the early morning skies all of this week. We had a faint lunar eclipse at the full moon and things are still aligned for a solar eclipse with this new moon. This will be an annular eclipse, where the moon's angular size isn't quite large enough to cover the entire disc of the sun, so a ring of sunlight is left at greatest eclipse. This eclipse will be visible throughout a lot of south America and the southern half of Africa and about half of Antarctica. Southern Chile and Argentina and the middle of Angola will see the full annular eclipse.
Venus continues to shine brightly in the west at sunset and is setting at 9:35 p.m. Mars is still above and to the left of Venus and is setting at 10:10 p.m. And although you'll need binoculars or a telescope to see it, Uranus is above and to the left of Mars and the two will slowly converge throughout the week.
Jupiter rises at 10:20 p.m. at midweek. The bright star Spica can be seen nearby. Saturn rises at 3:15 a.m. Look for a thin crescent moon near Saturn on Tuesday morning. Mercury continues to move towards conjunction with the sun and is rising at 7:05 a.m.
In space anniversaries this week, Monday February 20th marks the 55th anniversary of John Glenn becoming the first American to orbit the earth in his spacecraft Friendship 7.
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.