Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for Monday March 31st through Sunday April 6th.
The moon is new this week on Sunday, so there will be moon-free evening skies all week.
Mars is very high in the west at 9 p.m. and Saturn is high in the southeast as the sky darkens. Jupiter is rising at about 3 a.m. this week and Venus and Mercury are rising at 6:30 a.m., shortly before the sun. Look for the moon, just a few days before new, alongside Venus on Friday morning.
In space news, the shuttle Endeavour landed safely last week after a 16-day mission to the International Space Station that included a record five spacewalks. The Jules Verne Automated Transfer Vehicle, an unmanned cargo carrier, launched earlier in March and is due to dock with the space station this week. You can find out more at www.nasa.gov
The Cassini spacecraft, currently in orbit around Saturn, made a close fly-by of Saturn’s moon Enceladus on March 12th and flew through a flume of material that has been found to erupt off the small moon. Among the chemicals that Cassini sampled on the flyby were: water vapor, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and some simple and complex organic molecules, possibly including methane, ethane, acetylene and formaldehyde. You can follow all the exciting results from the mission at saturn.jpl.nasa.gov
Public viewing at the 16-inch reflector on top of Robert Lee Moore Hall is on Wednesday nights 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 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 start time when a viewing is cancelled.
Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report.