Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday September 16th through Sunday September 22nd.
The full moon for the month of September is on Thursday the 19th, so we'll have a waxing gibbous moon for the first part of the week and a waning gibbous moon for the latter part of the week. This full moon is known as the Fruit Moon and the Corn Moon, and as the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox, the Harvest Moon.
Mercury is low on the western horizon at sundown and is setting at 8:20 p.m. at midweek. Venus and Saturn are close together in the west-southwest shortly after sunset and will be separated by just 4 degrees on Friday. Venus is the brighter of the two, shining at magnitude -4.1, making it the second brightest object in the night sky. Venus is setting at 9:30 p.m. at midweek, followed by Saturn just 5 minutes later. Jupiter is rising at 1:50 a.m. and Mars follows at 4:00 a.m.
The autumnal equinox for the northern hemisphere occurs at 3:44 p.m. Central Daylight Time when the sun crosses the celestial equator and goes from the north into the southern hemisphere making the day and night roughly equal. For the northern hemisphere the nights will start to grow longer than the days. The opposite will happen for the southern hemisphere of Earth, which will be starting spring and will have the days begin to grow longer than the nights.
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 texassports.com. The game for Saturday the 21st is in Austin and starts at 7 p.m., so there will be no Painter Hall viewing that night.
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 60 minutes before the scheduled viewing start time.
Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers Report.