skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday June 10th through Sunday June 16th.

The moon is at first quarter on Sunday, so we will have a waxing crescent moon in the early evening skies all of this week.

Jupiter has now dropped too close to the sun to be seen as it heads towards conjunction next week. Venus continues to move away from the sun and is setting an hour and a half after the sun by midweek. Mercury is nearby and is at greatest elongation on Wednesday the 12th when it will set at 10:15 p.m.

Saturn is high in the southeast as the sky darkens and is setting at 4:00 a.m. at midweek. Mars is in the east-southeast and rising a little over an hour before the sun.

This week has three important space anniversaries. Saturday the 16th marks the 50th anniversary of the launch of Valentina Tereshkova on the Vostok 6 mission when she became the first woman in space. 30 years ago on June 13th, Pioneer 10 became the first man-made object to achieve escape velocity from the Solar System, which by one definition makes it the first spacecraft to leave the solar system. And finally, 10 years ago on June 10th Spirit, the first of the twin Mars Exploration Rovers, launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida. After landing in January 2004, Spirit roved the Red Planet until becoming stuck in soft soil and sending its last communication in March 2010.

Public viewing at the 16-inch reflector on top of Robert Lee Moore Hall is on Wednesday nights from 9:00 to 10:30 p.m. this summer. 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 9:00 to 10:30 p.m. this summer. 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 512-232-4265 for weather cancellation information, which is updated 30 to 60 minutes before the scheduled start time when a viewing is cancelled.

Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers Report.