skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday August 29th through Monday September 5th.

The moon is new early in the morning hours of Thursday September 1 so we'll have a waning crescent moon to start the week and a waxing crescent moon low in the west right after sunset this weekend.

This new moon creates an annular solar eclipse that will be visible over parts central and southern Africa and Madagascar, with the greatest eclipse occurring in Tanzania. An annular eclipse occurs when the new moon's angular size isn't great enough to completely obscure the sun's disc and leaves a ring of sunlight.

If you can pick Mercury out of the evening twilight, you might still have a chance to see all five of the naked eye planets this week. Mercury is setting at 8:30 p.m. at midweek, about 40 minutes after the sun, so it will be a challenge to find.

Jupiter and Venus are slowly separating after their close conjunction last week. Jupiter is due west at sunset and is setting at 8:45 p.m. Venus is up and to the left of Jupiter and is setting at 9:00 p.m.

Saturn and Mars are still in the top of the constellation Scorpius and make a triangle with the bright orange star Antares. Both planets are setting around 12:35 a.m. at midweek.

In space anniversaries, Saturday September 3rd marks the 40th anniversary of the Viking 2 spacecraft landing in the Utopia Planitia area of Mars. Its twin, Viking 1, had previously landed on July 20th.

Public viewing at the 16-inch reflector on top of Robert Lee Moore Hall is on Wednesday nights currently from 8 to 10 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.

Public viewing at the 9 inch refractor at Painter Hall is on Friday and Saturday nights from currently 8 to 10 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. Please note that there will be no Painter Telescope viewing on Saturday evenings when the UT football team has a night home game. To check the schedule, logon to TexasSports.com

All events are free and open to all ages and no reservations are required. Note that viewing times and availability change throughout the year so please check the schedule before planning a visit. Observing events are weather permitting. Please call 512-232-4265 for weather cancellation information, which is updated 30 to 45 minutes before the scheduled viewing start time.

Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers Report and have a happy and safe Labor Day weekend.