Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for Monday March 8 to Sunday March 21.
The new moon for the month of March is on Monday the 15th, so we will have a waning crescent moon followed by a waxing crescent after the new phase.
Mercury is at superior conjunction with the sun on Sunday the 14th, so it will pass behind the sun from the Earth’s point of view. With this conjunction, Mercury will move from the morning skies to the evening skies. On the 17th, Uranus will be in conjunction with the sun and will emerge into the morning skies. Jupiter has just passed conjunction and is rising only about 15 minutes before the sun on March 8th, and it will be up about 35 minutes before the sun on the 21st.
Venus is getting easier to see in the evening skies after sunset. Look for a very bright object low in the west in the hour or so after the sun sets. Mars is still very high in the east after sunset and looks like a bright orange star. Saturn is rising in the east about an hour and a half after sunset.
The morning of Sunday the 14th marks the return to Daylight Saving time. The hour that is officially skipped is 2 to 3 a.m.
The vernal, or spring, equinox for the northern hemisphere (and autumnal equinox for the southern hemisphere) occurs at 12:32 p.m. central daylight time on Saturday March 20th. On this day the sun rises due east and sets due west and the day and night are roughly of equal length.
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. There will be no viewing on March 17th due to spring break.
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. There will be no viewing on March 19 and 20th due to spring break.
After Spring Break, all public viewing times will change to 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. due to the move to Daylight Saving time.
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.