Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday March 28th through Sunday April 3rd.
The moon is new on Sunday April 3rd, so we will have a waning crescent moon for all of this week.
Jupiter is setting just a few minutes after the sun as it heads towards conjunction next week. Mercury is still visible low in the west after sunset this week and sets at 8:50 p.m. at midweek.
Saturn is at opposition late on the night of Sunday the 3rd, so it will be rising at sunset and visible all night long.
Venus is visible in the morning skies and rises at 5:45 am. Look for a thin crescent moon next to Venus on the morning of Thursday the 31st. Mars and Uranus will be moving closer to one another until they are about one third of a degree apart on Sunday the 3rd, but unfortunately they are both still close to the Sun.
This March marks the 25th anniversary of the encounters by several spacecraft with Halley's Comet when it made its last pass through the inner solar system in 1986. This was the first time a comet had been studied up-close by spacecraft, paving the way for later comet encounter missions. Halley's comet is currently 32 astronomical units from Earth, placing it beyond the orbit of Neptune. It will reach its farthest point from the sun in 2023 before starting its return to the inner solar system for its 2061 apparition.
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.