skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday September 23rd through Sunday September 29th.

The moon is at third quarter late on the night of Thursday the 26th so we will have a waning gibbous moon for the first part of the week and a waning crescent moon for the weekend.

Mercury is visible low in the west-southwest after sunset and will be less than a degree from the star Spica on Tuesday evening. Mercury is setting a little less than an hour after the sun at midweek. Saturn is above and to the left of Mercury and is setting at 9:10 p.m. Venus is shining brightly nearby and is setting about 15 minutes after Saturn.

Jupiter is rising at 1:30 a.m. Look for the well-known shape of the winter constellation of Orion the Hunter nearby. The waning crescent moon will be about 5 degrees away from Jupiter on Saturday morning. Mars is rising at 3:50 a.m.

Last weekend marked the 10th anniversary of the end of the Galileo spacecraft's mission when engineers programmed it to use its remaining fuel to plunge into the atmosphere of Jupiter to prevent collision with any of Jupiter's moons. Galileo was launched from the cargo bay of the Space Shuttle Atlantis in October 1989 and became the first spacecraft to orbit Jupiter in 1995. On its way to Jupiter it also became the first mission to fly past an asteroid, passing close to Gaspra in 1991 and Ida in 1993, as well as discovering the first moon of an asteroid.

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 60 minutes before the scheduled viewing start time.

Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers Report.