skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for April 29th through May 5th

The moon is at third quarter phase early in the morning hours of May 4th.

The five planets visible to the naked eye will continue to be clumped together in the western sky after sunset for the next few weeks. There isn't any one date that is the best to see these planets, although they will be grouped the closest, along with the moon, on May 14th.

Mercury will reach its highest point above the western horizon this coming weekend. The innermost planet is the lowest of the bunch, so you will need a good view of the western horizon to see it.

Mars, Venus and Saturn will form a tight triangle just a little above Mercury. They will be closest to one another this weekend. Venus is the brightest in the group, with Saturn to its upper left and Mars to its upper right. Jupiter is the bright object much higher in the west.

Groupings such as this are relatively rare and the next one this good will occur in 2040. A similar grouping occurred in May of 2000, but was too close to the sun to be seen -- except by the orbiting solar observatory SOHO.

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.

Next week will be the final star parties for the spring. Summer viewing will resume in June.

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.