skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday October 3rd through Sunday October 9th.

The moon is at first quarter in the early morning hours of Tuesday the 4th, so we will have a waxing gibbous moon for most of this week.

Mercury, Venus and Saturn are all clustered near the Sun this week and are not easily visible. Mercury and Venus are moving away from the Sun and will soon be easier to see in our evening skies. Saturn is heading towards conjunction with the sun and will re-emerge in the morning skies in the next few weeks.

Jupiter is rising a little before 8:30 p.m. and is visible for the rest of the night. Mars is rising at 2:30 a.m. at midweek.

Late last week the Dawn spacecraft reached its High Altitude Mapping Orbit around the asteroid Vesta. The spacecraft entered its initial orbit around the asteroid back in July and has been slowly spiraling down into the current orbit. Dawn will leave orbit around Vesta in July 2012 and fly to the largest of the asteroids, Ceres. The spacecraft is due to enter orbit around Ceres in February 2015. You can learn more about the mission and see detailed photos of Vesta at dawn.jpl.nasa.gov

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 mackbrown-texasfootball.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. 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 when a viewing is cancelled.

Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers Report.