skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday October 24th through Sunday October 30th.

The new moon for the month of October (or the second new moon in October, depending on time zones) is on Sunday the 30th, so we'll have a waning crescent moon in the morning skies for all of this week.

Mercury is in superior conjunction with the sun on Thursday the 27th when it will pass behind the sun from the Earth's point of view and move from our morning skies into our evening skies.

Venus is shining brightly in the west-southwest at sunset and is setting at 8:45 p.m. at midweek.  Saturn is nearby and is setting at 9:05 p.m. On Thursday evening look for Saturn, Venus, and the orange star Antares in Scorpius to make a vertical line, with Saturn at the top. Mars is still up in the south-southwest at sunset and is setting at 11:40 p.m. this week.

Jupiter is up in the morning skies, rising at 5:45 a.m. this week, now about two hours before the sun. If you have a good view of the eastern horizon, look for a very slim crescent moon alongside Jupiter on Friday morning.

In space anniversaries this week, Wednesday October 26th marks the 10th anniversary of the launch of the twin STEREO spacecraft on a mission to study the sun and how space weather affects the Earth. In February 2011 the spacecraft reached orbital positions to allow us to see the entire sphere of the sun at once for the first time.

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.