skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday October 17th through Sunday October 23rd.

The moon is at third quarter on Saturday the 22nd, so we'll have a waning gibbous moon for nearly the whole week.

Venus is visible low in the west-southwest at sundown and is setting at 8:45 p.m., about an hour and a half after the sun. A look at Venus in binoculars or a small telescope will reveal it to be oval shaped instead of a full circle since we're only seeing it about 80% illuminated right now thanks to orbital geometry.

Saturn is above and a little to the left of Venus and is setting at 9:30 p.m., so there is still a little bit of time in the evening to observe it before it heads into conjunction with the sun in early December.

Mars is up in the south-southwest and is setting at 11:45 p.m. Like Venus, Mars doesn't appear as a full disk in telescopes right now because we're currently seeing it about 85% illuminated.

In the morning skies, Jupiter is rising at 6:10 a.m., almost an hour and a half before the sun. Mercury is rising less than 30 minutes before the sun as it moves towards conjunction next week.

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 45 minutes before the scheduled viewing start time.

Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers Report.