skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for Monday April 12th through Sunday the 18th.

The new moon for the month of April is on Wednesday the 14th, so there will be a tiny waning crescent moon in the morning skies early this week and a slim waxing crescent moon in the early evening skies for the end of this week. The crescent moon was alongside Jupiter on Monday morning just before sunrise.

Mercury and Venus are still relatively close to one another in the western skies after sunset, although not as close as last week. Venus will continue to get higher for the next few months, while Mercury is sinking lower each night as it moves back towards conjunction with the sun in a few weeks. On the night of the 15th, shortly after sunset, look for Mercury just off the limb of the crescent moon. On the 16th the crescent moon will be above Venus and below the Pleiades star cluster.

Mars is high in the south as the sky darkens after sunset. Saturn is high in the east-southeast in the evening skies and crosses the meridian a little after midnight.

Monday April 12th marks the 49th anniversary of the first manned spaceflight by Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin and the 29th anniversary of the first space shuttle flight on Columbia with Commander John Young and Pilot Robert Crippen. Also this week in space history - Sunday the 11th was the 40th anniversary of the launch of Apollo 13, which returned safely to Earth on April 17th.

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 viewing start time when a viewing is cancelled.

Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report.