Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday October 14th through Sunday October 20th.
The full moon for the month of October is on Friday the 18th so we'll have a waxing gibbous moon for the first part of the week and a waning gibbous moon for the weekend. This full moon is known as the Hunter's Moon and the Dying Grass Moon.
Two of the three planets low in the west at sunset are becoming increasingly hard to catch in the evening twilight. Mercury is sinking back towards the sun after last week's greatest elongation and is setting a little before 8 p.m. at midweek. Saturn is right beside Mercury and is setting at about the same time. Venus is higher and a little to the left of Mercury and Saturn and is setting at 9:20 p.m. Look for the bright orange star Antares in Scorpius near Venus most of this week.
Jupiter is up in the east at 12:15 a.m. followed by Mars at 3:30 a.m.
If you're looking for planets to observe in the gap between the visibility of the naked-eye planets, Uranus and Neptune are currently well-placed in the early evening skies. You will need at least a pair of binoculars to see Uranus and a small telescope to see Neptune and both will require finder charts. Both will show up as small blue dots and under higher magnification and good sky conditions Uranus will show a disc and a faint turquoise color.
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 texassports.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 so please check the schedule before planning a visit. Observing events are weather permitting. Please call 512-232-4265 for weather cancellation information, which is updated 30 to 60 minutes before the scheduled viewing start time.
Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers Report.