Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday October 15th through Sunday October 21st.
The new moon for the month of October was early in the morning hours of Monday the 15th and it will reach first quarter late on Sunday night, so we will see a waxing crescent moon all of this week.
Saturn is now setting about 25 minutes after the sun as it heads towards conjunction next week. Monday October 15th marks the 15th anniversary of the launch of the Cassini spacecraft that is currently in orbit around Saturn. You can see all of its amazing images of the Saturnian system at saturn.jpl.nasa.gov.
Mercury is low in the west-southwest and is setting at 8 p.m. at midweek. Mars is higher up in the southwest and is still near Antares, whose name means "the rival of Mars". Mars is setting at 9:10 p.m. at midweek. Jupiter is rising at 9:40 p.m. and is visible for the rest of the night. Venus is up in the morning skies and rises at 4:40 a.m.
The Orionid meteor shower peaks this weekend as the Earth passes through the debris left in orbit by Halley's Comet. This shower usually produces about 20 to 25 meteors an hour and appear to come from a point between the constellations of Orion and Gemini. The best time to look for them will be after midnight on Saturday night when the constellations are higher in the sky and our part of the earth is turned into the stream.
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 to start at 7 p.m. so there will be no Painter Hall viewing that evening.
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.