skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for April 24th through the 30th.

The moon is new on Thursday the 27th. The moon was right alongside Venus on Monday morning and some observers in South America would have seen the moon occult, or move in front of, Venus. Venus can be seen rising a little before 5 a.m. and is in the east as the morning star. The moon will reappear in the early evening skies on the weekend and will be near the Pleiades and Hyades star clusters on Saturday.

Saturn and Mars continue to be visible as soon as the sky darkens. Mars is near the feet of the constellation Gemini the Twins. Saturn is still close to overhead at sunset, but is a little farther west now as it gets dark. Jupiter is rising at 8:45 p.m. this week.

The comet Schwassmann Wachmann 3 is heading for a close pass by Earth in mid-May. This comet has broken up into about 40 fragments, similar to what was seen with Shoemaker Levy 9 that crashed into Jupiter in 1994. The comet should steadily brighten over the next few weeks. Look for it in the east-northeast in Corona Borealis. More information is available at spaceweather.com

Public viewing at the Painter Hall telescope is on Fridays and Saturdays from 8 to 10 p.m. Painter Hall is located on 24th street about halfway between Speedway and Guadalupe.

The telescope at Robert Lee Moore Hall is open to the public on Wednesday nights from 8 to 10 p.m. RLM is located on the southeast corner of Dean Keeton and Speedway. Take the elevators to the 17th floor and follow the signs to the telescope.

All events are free and open to all ages and no reservations are required. Note that star party times and availability change throughout the year. Please call this recording before planning a visit to the telescopes. Observing events are weather permitting. Please call 232-4265 for weather cancellation information, which is updated 30 to 60 minutes before viewing start time only on nights when star parties are cancelled.

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