skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for Monday September 8th through Sunday the 14th.

The moon was at first quarter on Sunday the 7th and will reach full on Monday the 15th so we will have a waxing gibbous moon all this week.

We still have an interesting cluster of planets low in the west shortly after sunset. Venus and Mars will be less than a half a degree apart on the 11th, with Mercury below the pair. Mercury is also at its greatest elongation that evening. After the 11th, Mercury will begin to sink back to the horizon and Venus and Mars will increase their separation.

Jupiter is bright in the south at 9 p.m. and sets at around 2 a.m. Look for Jupiter about three degrees above the moon on the 9th. Saturn has now passed in to the morning skies and is very close to the sun.

The first images of the asteroid Steins were returned from the Rosetta spacecraft, revealing the space rock to be just as oddly shaped as the other asteroids we’ve imaged up close. Steins has a pointed end, giving it an almost diamond shape. Rosetta is a mission by the European Space Agency that has ultimately will enter into orbit around a comet in 2014 and will be the first to undertake a long-term up-close study of a comet. You can see images from the mission and learn more about it at www.esa.int/rosetta

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.