skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for Monday October 5th through Sunday October 11th.

The moon is at third quarter on the morning of Sunday the 11th so we will have a waning gibbous moon all of this week.

Jupiter is bright in the southeast as the sky darkens after sunset. Mars is rising at 1:15 a.m. this week. Venus is rising at about 5:40 a.m. at midweek and Saturn and Mercury also visible low in the east before dawn. On the morning of Thursday the 8th, Mercury and Saturn will be less than a third of a degree apart so you will be able to see both at the same time in binoculars or a telescope with a low power eyepiece.

Last week the Messenger spacecraft made its third fly-by of Mercury before it settles in to orbit in March 2011. Although the spacecraft went in to safe mode during part of the fly-by the gravity assist was successful and several great photographs were returned. You can see the new images and follow the mission’s progress at messenger.jhuapl.edu.

On Friday morning, the LCROSS mission will impact a crater near the south pole of the moon in search for water ice. The impact will be at about 6:30 a.m. on the 9th here in Texas. You can watch live coverage of the impact and learn more about the mission at lcross.arc.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. This Saturday’s game is scheduled for 6 p.m. so there will be no Painter viewing 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 when a viewing is cancelled.

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