Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for Monday February 23rd through Sunday March 1st.
The moon is new on Tuesday night so we will have moon-free early evenings until the crescent moon appears low in the west on the 27th. On the night of the 27th, Venus and the crescent moon will be a degree apart low in the west. If you look at Venus with a telescope that evening, you will see that both Venus and the moon have the same phase.
There is still a cluster of planets in the morning skies, with Jupiter, Mercury, Mars and Neptune all rising about an hour or less before the sun. Saturn is rising at 7:15 p.m. at midweek and is becoming well placed for evening observing.
Comet Lulin, discovered in July 2007, is making its closest approach to earth this week and will be visible just to the right of Saturn from Monday night in to Tuesday morning. Your best bet to see the comet is to look with binoculars or a small telescope. Photos of the comet and finder charts are available at spaceweather.com
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.