skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for Monday April 5 to Sunday the 11th.

The moon is at third quarter on Tuesday the 6th so we will have a waning crescent moon most of this week.

Venus is shining brightly in the west shortly after sunset this week with Mercury nearby, so this is another good week for spotting the innermost planet. Mercury will reach its greatest elongation east on Thursday and then start sinking back towards the sun for its next conjunction.

Mars is nearly overhead as the sky darkens after sunset and Saturn is up in the east-southeast. Jupiter is still only visible shortly before sunrise. Look for a thin crescent moon near Jupiter on the morning of the 11th.

The space shuttle Discovery launched early Monday morning for its trip to the International Space Station. The shuttle is delivering supplies to the station and there will be three spacewalks as part of the mission. One new milestone reached with this mission is that for the first time there are four women in space at the same time. Astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson arrived at the space station on a Russian Soyuz last week and will be joined by astronauts Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger and Stephanie Wilson and Naoko Yamazaki of the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency when the shuttle docks at the station on their third day in orbit. You can follow the mission at www.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.