skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for Monday October 6th through Sunday the 12th.

The moon is at first quarter on Tuesday morning so we will have a waxing gibbous moon for the rest of the week. Look for a bright Jupiter above the moon on Monday evening and to the right of the moon on Tuesday.

Venus can be spotted low in the west-southwest after sunset this week. Mars is below and to the right of Venus, but is hard to catch in the evening twilight. Mercury is at inferior conjunction on Monday and will be too close to the sun to see this week. Saturn is up in the morning hours before sunrise, rising a little after 5 a.m.

Although Mercury is out of view in our Earth-bound skies this week, the Messenger spacecraft is getting an up-close view of the innermost planet as it continues its complicated path towards entering orbit around Mercury in 2011. This fly-by will show some areas of Mercury that have never been seen up-close by a spacecraft. The only mission to visit Mercury before Messenger was Mariner 10, which photographed less than half of the planet’s surface in the 1970s. To learn more about the Messenger mission and see the newest photos as they are released, logon to messenger.jhuapl.edu

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.