skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for April 22nd through the 28th.

The full moon for the month of April is on the 26th. This full moon is sometimes called the Grass Moon, the Egg Moon or the Pink Moon.

As comet Ikeya-Zhang fades from our morning skies, the evening planets move into position for a great late-April and early-May show. With Mercury re-emerging from behind the sun, it joins the other four naked eye planets in the sky just after sunset. There isn't any one date that is the best to see the planets, although they will be grouped the closest, along with the moon, on May 14th. During the course of this week, you can see the planets gradually move closer to one another. As we head into May, Venus, Mars and Saturn will form a tight triangle and will be visible all in the same field in a typical pair of binoculars.

Jupiter is the highest of the bunch, with Saturn next, below and to the right. A faint Mars is below and to the right of Saturn, followed by a brilliantly bright Venus. Mercury is the lowest of the group and will need a clear western horizon to be seen. The line that the five planets trace out is the plane of our solar system. All the planets except Pluto lie within about seven degrees of the line, called the ecliptic. Pluto is the oddball out at about 17 degrees off of the plane.

The telescope at Robert Lee Moore hall is open to the public on Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. The building is located on the southeast corner of Dean Keeton (formerly 26th street) and Speedway. Take the elevator to the 17th floor and follow the signs to the telescope.

The telescope at Painter hall is open on Fridays for UT students, faculty and staff from 9:00 to 10:00 p.m. and Saturdays are open to the general public from 9:00 to 11:00 p.m. Painter Hall is located on 24th street about half way between Speedway and Guadalupe.

All events are free and open to all ages and no reservations are required. Observing events are weather permitting.

Please note that star party times change throughout the year. Please call this recording to check times before planning a visit to the telescopes.