Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday February 27th through Sunday March 5th.

The moon was new last Sunday and will be at first quarter this Sunday, so we'll have a waxing crescent moon in our early evening skies all of this week.

Venus continues to dominate the western skies after sunset and is shining brightly at magnitude -4.6, even though only 17% of it is currently illuminated.

Mars is still above and to the left of Venus, with Uranus nearby. On Monday they are less than a degree apart, but they will move farther away from one another after that. Look for the crescent moon nearby on Wednesday March 1.

Over in the east, Jupiter is rising at 9:25 p.m. at midweek as it continues to head towards opposition in early April.

Saturn is rising at 2:25 a.m. and Mercury is up just a few minutes before the sun as it heads towards conjunction next week.

In space anniversaries this week, Thursday, March 2nd marks 45 years since the launch of the Pioneer 10 spacecraft. Pioneer 10 was the first spacecraft to explore the planet Jupiter, which it flew past in November 1973. The last contact with the spacecraft was on January 23, 2003 when Pioneer 10 was 12 billion kilometers from Earth.

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.

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