skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for Monday October 19th through Sunday the 25th.

The moon is at first quarter on Sunday the 25th so we will see a waxing crescent moon in the evening skies all of this week.

Jupiter continues to be the brightest planet in our evening skies, high in the south at 9 p.m. this week. The moon will be to the right of Jupiter on the 25th. Uranus and Neptune are also still up in the evening skies but you will need a telescope to see them. The remainder of the planets are still up in the morning skies. Mars is rising at 1 a.m.; with Saturn rising a little after 5 a.m. Venus is the brightest of the morning planets and rises at 6 a.m. Mercury is very low and close to the sun this week and rises shortly before 7 a.m. at mid-week.

The peak of the Orionid Meteor shower is this week and the best time to observe is in the morning hours before sunrise on Wednesday. Since the moon is just a few days past new and will have long since set, it won’t interfere with the Orionids this year. The Earth passing through the debris left by perhaps the most famous of comets – Halley’s, causing this meteor shower. The meteors will appear to come from a point between the constellations Orion the Hunter and Gemini the Twins. This shower typically produces around 10 to 20 meteors an hour at its peak, but there have been higher counts in recent years, sometimes as much as 60 or more an hour. If weather interferes with observing on Wednesday morning, the activity should still be good for a few days before and after the 21st.

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.