Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for Monday March 29th through Sunday April 4th.
The full moon for the month of March is Monday night, or Tuesday morning if you go by universal time. This full moon is known as the Lenten Moon, the Sap Moon or the Worm Moon.
Look for Saturn above the Moon on Monday night and Mars will be nearly overhead as the sky darkens after sunset. In the early evening western skies, Venus and Mercury are still close to one another all of this week. Look for the pair of planets fairly low in the west in the hour after sunset.
The last of the planets visible to the unaided eye, Jupiter, is still rising within an hour of sunrise but is slowly moving out of the pre-dawn glow.
NASA has chosen April 5th as the launch date for the Space Shuttle Discovery on its mission to the International Space Station. The shuttle will deliver the Leonardo module and supplies to the station in a 13-day mission that will include three spacewalks. After this mission, only three planned shuttle missions remain. You can find out more about the mission at www.nasa.gov
The Solar Dynamics Observatory, which launched in early February, opened all of its instrument doors over the weekend and began collecting its first images. The official first light images will be released in mid-April. You can learn more about the mission at sdo.gsfc.nasa.gov
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.