skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for Tuesday September 2nd through Sunday September 7th.

The moon is at first quarter on Sunday so we’ll see a growing crescent moon in the evening skies this week. The slim crescent moon can still be seen clustered with some planets on Tuesday right after sunset. Venus, the brightest of the planets is to the right of the moon, with fainter Mercury and Mars in between. Saturn has disappeared from the grouping in the west and is in conjunction with the Sun on Thursday. After that day it will slowly emerge in the morning skies. Jupiter is still the best planet for evening observing and is in the south around 9 p.m. this week.

Sunspot activity continues to be low, with only one tiny speck on the sun for the month of August, but the low activity was expected as we finish sunspot cycle 23 and begin cycle 24. However, if you have a solar telescope that can see prominences, you will find that the sun is still plenty interesting without sunspots. Check out photos of the solar activity on spaceweather.com

The Mars rover Opportunity has climbed back out of Victoria Crater, which it has been exploring for nearly a year. You can see all of the images from this and other NASA Mars missions at mars.jpl.nasa.gov

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 football schedule, logon to mackbrown-texasfootball.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. 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.