Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for Monday October 4th to Sunday October 10th.
The new moon for the month of October is on Thursday the 7th, so we will have a waning crescent moon for the first half of the week and a thin waxing crescent for the end of the week.
Venus is still visible low in the west-southwest shortly after sunset and is setting at around 8 p.m. Mars is above Venus this week and is setting at around 8:30 p.m. at midweek. On the evening of Saturday the 9th, look for a slim crescent moon between the two planets.
The bright star-like object in the east-southeast evening skies is Jupiter. Uranus is still close by, although now it is separated from Jupiter by about two degrees.
Mercury and Saturn are up shortly before the sun in the morning skies and are still mostly lost in the Sun's glare. The two planets will be side-by-side and separated by half a degree on the morning of Friday October 8th.
NASA's EPOXI spacecraft will swing by and photograph the nucleus of Comet Hartley 2, and for the next few weeks we'll be able to see the comet in our skies. Latest reports are that the comet is just at the limit of what the human eye can see in dark skies, but it is easy to find in binoculars or a small telescope. This week the comet is near the constellation Cassiopeia. Finder charts are available on skyandtelescope.com
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 complete 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.