Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for Monday March 23rd through Sunday the 29th.
The moon is new on Thursday the 26th, so we will see a slim crescent moon appear in the evening skies at the end of the week. You can catch the moon in the morning skies alongside many planets early in the week. If you look to the east shortly before sunrise, Jupiter will be the highest and brightest of the morning planets, with Mars and the moon side-by-side on Tuesday morning. Mercury is very close to the sun and Uranus and Neptune are in the mix, although you would need a telescope to see the latter two.
Venus is at inferior conjunction with the sun on Friday the 27th. Venus has been dominating the western skies after sunset but has been gradually sinking back towards the sun a little every night. When Venus passes the sun on Friday, it will be fairly far from the sun in our skies, so you might be able to see it at conjunction. Look for it in the east shortly before sunrise, although only the slimmest crescent will be visible.
After Venus moves into the morning skies at the end of the week, Saturn will be the only planet visible in our evening skies. The ringed planet is now fairly high in the east as the sky darkens. The current alignment between our two planets means we are seeing the rings almost edge-on, which gives us a better chance at seeing some of Saturn’s small inner moons.
The space shuttle Discovery was finally able to launch last week for its mission to install the final set of solar arrays for the International Space Station. You can follow the mission and watch live streaming video from the space station at www.nasa.gov .
Public viewing at the 16-inch reflector on top of Robert Lee Moore Hall is on Wednesday nights currently 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 currently 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. 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.