Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday September 22nd through Sunday September 28th.
The moon is new on Tuesday night, so we'll see a waxing crescent moon in the early evening skies in the latter part of the week.
Mercury is low in the west-southwest at sundown and is setting an hour after the sun. Saturn is in the southwestern skies at sunset and is setting at 9:50 p.m. Look for the crescent moon alongside Saturn on Saturday night. Mars is still near Antares in the constellation Scorpius in the southwest and is setting at 10:40 p.m.
Jupiter is still an early morning object and is rising at 3:40 a.m. Venus is now up less than an hour before the sun and will be a challenge to find in the dawn twilight.
The autumnal equinox for the northern hemisphere occurs at 9:29 p.m. Central Daylight Time on Monday the 22nd. On the equinox, the sun rises due east and sets due west and the day and night are roughly equal. For the southern hemisphere this equinox will mark the start of spring.
Over the weekend, the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution spacecraft - MAVEN for short - entered orbit around the Red Planet where it will primarily study Mars' upper atmosphere. MAVEN is the newest of the 6 spacecraft studying Mars, but not for long, when a 7th will arrive just a few days later. The Mars Orbiter Mission is due to enter orbit on September 24th and is India's first interplanetary mission. You can learn more about the MAVEN mission at mars.jpl.nasa.gov and the Mars Orbiter Mission at isro.org/mars
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.
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.