skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday March 18th through Sunday March 24th.

The moon is at first quarter on Tuesday the 19th and we will have a waxing gibbous moon for the remainder of the week.

Mars and Uranus are separated by about half a degree at midweek, but unfortunately they are setting only 25 minutes after the sun and are lost it the sun's glare.

Jupiter is now high in the west as the sky darkens and is setting at 1:05 a.m. at midweek.

Over in the east-southeast, Saturn rises at 10:35 p.m. and is visible for the remainder of the night.

Venus is still lost in the sun's glare shortly before sunrise.

Comet Pan-STARRS is still visible low in the west after sunset. Some observers have reported being able to see it with the unaided eye, but binoculars will be helpful in locating the comet. Finder charts are available online at stardate.org

The vernal equinox for the northern hemisphere occurs at a little after 6:00 a.m. central time on the morning of Wednesday the 20th. At the equinox there is roughly an equal amount of daylight and nighttime. For those of us in the northern hemisphere the amount of daylight will start to become longer than the nights, while the reverse will happen in the southern hemisphere.

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.