Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for Monday March 19th through the 25th.
The moon was new early in the morning hours of Monday the 19th if you go by universal time. For observers in northwestern Alaska, Siberia and all the way across to India, there was a partial solar eclipse. Log on to spaceweather.com for photos of the eclipse.
The northern hemisphere’s vernal, or spring, equinox occurs just a few minutes after midnight on the morning of the 21st according to universal time, but is at 7:07 p.m. on the 20th for our local time in the US central time zone. The equinox is the point where the sun crosses the celestial equator, which is a projection of the Earth’s equator on to the sky.
Venus is shining brightly in the west after sunset and will be joined by a slim crescent moon early in the week. On the night of the 20th the moon, just two days past new, will be below Venus. The next night, Wednesday, the moon will be just above Venus and will probably be easier to see as it has progressed another day toward first quarter.
Saturn is still the only other evening planet, now visible in the east-southeast as the sky darkens. The rest of the naked-eye planets can be seen in the morning hours, with Jupiter rising at about 1:45 a.m., Mars at 5:30 a.m. and Mercury at 6:20 a.m. at mid-week.
Public viewing at the 16-inch reflector on top of Robert Lee Moore Hall is on Wednesday nights from 8 to 10 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 from 8 to 10 p.m. Painter Hall is located on 24th street about halfway between Speedway and Guadalupe and is northeast of the UT Tower.
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 viewing start time on nights when public viewing is cancelled.
Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report.