skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for Monday October 2nd to Sunday October 8th.

The full moon for the month of October is on the night of Friday the 6th. Because this is the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox, it is called the Harvest Moon. The moon is at its closest point to Earth, called perigee, just 12 hours earlier, so higher than usual tides are expected.

The moon and Uranus will be separated by only about a degree on Wednesday the 4th. Uranus will be above the moon that night, so you might be able to find it with binoculars. In telescopes the planet shows up as a pale blue-green disk.

Jupiter can still be seen low in the west-southwest after sunset, but it is now setting at around 9 p.m. Mercury can be seen lower and to the right of Jupiter, but you’ll have to look quickly to catch it before sets a little after 8 p.m. Saturn is rising at about 3:30 in the morning and is now visible for several hours before sunrise.

NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter began its mapping mission last week. The spacecraft will be taking pictures with the highest resolution camera ever to photograph Mars from orbit. You can see the first picture and follow the mission at mars.jpl.nasa.gov/mro/

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.

Please note that there will be no public viewing at the Painter Hall telescope on Saturday nights when the UT football team has a home game starting after 5 p.m. Check mackbrown-texasfootball.com for current scheduling information.

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 viewing start time on nights when public viewing is cancelled.

Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report.