Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday April 29th through Sunday May 5th.
The moon is at third quarter on Thursday May 2nd so we will start the week with a waning gibbous moon and finish with a waning crescent in the early morning skies.
Venus is setting about 45 minutes after the sun so it is still difficult to see in the bright skies shortly after sunset. Jupiter is up in the west-northwest after sunset and is now setting at 10:50 p.m. at midweek.
Over in the east-southeast, Saturn is rising at 7:35 p.m. at midweek and is visible for almost the whole night, setting just a few minutes before sunrise this week.
Mercury is sinking back towards conjunction with the sun later in May so it is now rising just 25 minutes before the sun at midweek. Mars is still emerging from conjunction and is rising only 10 minutes before the sun.
Planetary scientists released photos and a movie of the storm at the north pole of Saturn captured by the Cassini spacecraft. The storm is about 20 times the size of a hurricane here on Earth and some clouds in it travel at 330 miles per hour. You can see the video and photos online at saturn.jpl.nasa.gov.
Public viewing at the 16-inch reflector on top of Robert Lee Moore Hall is on Wednesday nights currently 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. This week, May 1st, will be the final Wednesday night viewing for the spring semester. Summer viewing will resume in June.
Public viewing at the 9-inch refractor at Painter Hall is on Friday and Saturday nights currently 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. This Friday and Saturday, May 3rd and 4th, will be the final Painter Hall viewing for the spring semester. Summer viewing will start in June.
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.