skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for Monday March 17th through Sunday the 23rd.

The moon is full on Friday. This full moon is known as the Lenten Moon, the Sap Moon or the Worm Moon.

The spring, or vernal, equinox occurs on Thursday morning. This is the day when, for those of us in the northern hemisphere, the sun crosses into the northern celestial hemisphere. If you look at the point on the horizon where the sun rises, it will be due east on the equinox and then gradually start to rise further north every day until the summer solstice. The same thing occurs in the west at sunset. Because the full moon comes just one day after the vernal equinox and both come late in the week, the explains why Easter comes very early this year.

Mars is still high at sunset, although now it is starting to show up farther to the west as the sky darkens. Mars is setting a little after 2 a.m. this week. Saturn is up fairly high in the east after sunset at sets at 5:30 a.m. at mid-week. Look for Saturn alongside the moon on Tuesday night.

The rest of the naked-eye planets are still mostly visible in the early morning skies. The one exception is Jupiter, which is rising at 2:45 a.m., so it is pretty high in the east before the sun rises. Mercury and Venus are very close together and rising about an hour before the sun.

Public viewing at the 16-inch reflector on top of Robert Lee Moore Hall is on Wednesday nights now from 8:30 to 10:30 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 now from 8:30 to 10:30 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.