Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for Monday September 24th through September 30th.
The moon is full on Wednesday. Since this is the first full moon after the autumnal equinox and the full moon closest to the equinox, this moon is called the Harvest Moon by two of the common definitions. Look for the moon close to the Pleiades open star cluster early on Sunday morning.
Jupiter is now in the southwest as darkness falls and is setting a little after 11 p.m. this week. Mercury is at its greatest elongation east on Saturday, stretching 26 degrees from the sun that evening. Look for it low in the west-southwest shortly after sunset. Mars is rising around midnight now. Look for the familiar shape of the constellation Orion the Hunter to Mars’ right.
Venus is rising at 4:15 a.m. at midweek and just passed its maximum brightness at magnitude -4.5 If you have even a small telescope and are up in the couple of hours before sunrise, be sure to give Venus a look since it will be showing a beautiful crescent phase. If you’re really good, you may be able to find Venus in broad daylight right now.
The Mars rover Opportunity has finally begun its exploration of the inside of Victoria Crater. At the beginning of September the rover tested its ability to get back out of the crater before progressing further, and once that test was passed, Opportunity began its weeks long exploration. You can follow all the current Mars missions at mars.jpl.nasa.gov
Public viewing at the 16 inch reflector on top of Robert Lee Moore Hall is on Wednesday nights 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 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 The home game on Saturday the 29th is currently scheduled to start at 2:30 p.m., so there will be viewing at Painter Hall 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. 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.
Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report.