Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for October 7 through the 13th.
The moon is at first quarter on Sunday the 13th. Also on Sunday, Mercury reaches its greatest elongation west, which means it can be seen in the east shortly before dawn. If you get up early to catch Mercury this week, you will be able to see Mars just a little above it. Farther up is Jupiter, with Saturn almost straight overhead at about 6:15 a.m.
Last week's launch of the Space Shuttle Atlantis was delayed due to the threat of Hurricane Lili at mission control in Houston. The launch is now planned for Monday the 7th. The shuttle will be delivering the 45-foot-long S-1 truss to the International Space Station. The shuttle will carry a video camera on the outside of the external tank during launch. The camera will be mounted above the orbiter and will be oriented downwards, so viewers will be able to see the earth recede as the shuttle climbs towards space. To follow the mission on the web, logon to spaceflight.nasa.gov
The telescope at Robert Lee Moore hall is open to the public on Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. The building 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.
The telescope at Painter hall is open on Fridays for UT students, faculty and staff from 8:00 to 9:00 p.m. and Saturdays are open to the general public from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. Painter Hall is located on 24th street about half way between Speedway and Guadalupe.
All events are free and open to all ages and no reservations are required. Observing events are weather permitting.
Please note that star party times change throughout the year. Please call this recording to check times before planning a visit to the telescopes.