skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for Monday March 2nd to Sunday the 8th.

The moon is at first quarter on Tuesday night, so we will see a waxing gibbous moon for most of the week. Look for the Pleiades open cluster above the moon on Monday night.

Venus is still shining very bright in the west at sundown. Saturn is at opposition on Sunday the 8th, so it will be rising at sunset and visible all night. Mercury, Mars and Jupiter are still visible only shortly before sunrise.

This weekend marks the return to Daylight Saving Time, when we skip forward an hour on the early morning of Sunday the 8th. The 2 to 3 a.m. hour is the one officially skipped.

This week NASA’s Kepler mission is due to launch on a mission that will search for earth-sized planets around other stars. The current launch date and time is around 9:45 p.m. central time on Friday the 6th. This mission will look for extrasolar planets by using a transit method, which looks for small dips in a star’s brightness caused by a planet temporarily blocking a small fraction of the light. You can learn more about the spacecraft and its mission at kepler.nasa.gov

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.

Please note that all star party times will move to 8 to 10 p.m. starting next week due to the time change.

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.