Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday March 21st through Sunday March 27th.
The moon is at third quarter on Saturday the 26th, so we will have a waning gibbous moon for most of this week.
Jupiter is now very low in the western skies after sunset and is setting at 8:30 p.m. this week. Mercury is at its greatest elongation east on Wednesday the 23rd, so this is a good time to try to find it in the west shortly after sunset. Mercury is setting a few minutes after 9 p.m. at midweek.
Saturn is rising at 8:30 p.m. at midweek and is visible for the remainder of the night. Venus is rising a little before 6 a.m. and can be spotted in the east-southeast during morning twilight. Mars is still emerging from the sun's glare and is not easily visible.
The Messenger spacecraft successfully entered orbit around Mercury last week, becoming the first mission to orbit the innermost planet. You can learn more about the mission at messenger.jhuapl.edu
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 nights at the 9 inch refractor at Painter Hall are on Friday and Saturday 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.