Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday September 18th through Sunday September 24th.
The new moon for the month of September is on the night of Tuesday the 19th and then we'll have a waxing crescent moon in the early evening skies for the remainder of the week.
The autumnal equinox for the northern hemisphere occurs on Friday September 22nd at 3:02 p.m. in the US central time zone. The equinoxes happen when the sun crosses the celestial equator and day and night are roughly (but not exactly) equal.
Jupiter is still low in the west at sunset and is setting about 75 minutes after the sun. Look for a very thin crescent moon next to Jupiter on Thursday evening.
Saturn is up in the south-southwest at sunset and is setting around midnight this week.
In the morning skies, Venus is rising at 5:15 a.m. - right about two hours before sunrise. Mars is below Venus and is up at 5:55 a.m., followed by Mercury rising at 6:15 a.m., about an hour before the Sun.
As was mentioned last week, on Friday September 15th the incredibly successful Cassini mission at Saturn came to an end. Contact with the spacecraft was lost on Earth at 6:55 a.m. Central Time, about 83 minutes after the spacecraft dove into the gas giant due to the light travel time from Saturn. While the mission may be over, the data from 13 years of orbiting Saturn will continue to be analyzed for years to come.
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. Please note that there will be no Painter Telescope viewing on Saturday evenings when the UT football team has a night home game. Logon to TexasSports.com to check the football schedule.
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.