skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for June 23rd through the 29th.

The new moon for the month of June is on Sunday the 29th.

Saturn is in conjunction with the sun on the 24th, meaning that it is passing behind the sun from our point of view.

Mars is rising just a little after midnight this week. The second Mars Exploration Rover mission is due to launch this coming weekend to join its twin, which is already en route to the red planet. Both rovers are set to arrive at Mars in January 2004.

With Saturn now behind the sun, Jupiter setting at around 11, there is just one other planet left in the evening skies -- the faint world of Pluto. The most distant planet is at magnitude 13.8, so even experienced Pluto hunters will want to use at least an 8 inch diameter telescope to try to find it. Finder charts are available from a variety of sources including astronomy.com. Pluto is currently over 3.6 billion miles from the Sun.

The telescope at Robert Lee Moore Hall is open to the public on Wednesday nights starting at 9:00 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.

The telescope at Painter hall is open on Fridays for UT students, faculty and staff from 9 to 10 p.m. and Saturdays for the general public from 9 to 11 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.