skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for Monday October 30th through November 5th.

The moon will be full on Sunday November 5th. The full moon for the month of November is called the Frosty Moon or the Beaver Moon. And because this is the first full moon after the Harvest Moon, this one is also called the Hunter’s Moon.

Four planets are currently clustered around the sun – Jupiter, Mars, Venus and Mercury. Mars and Venus both passed behind the sun from our vantage point and Jupiter will do so in about three weeks. Next week, Mercury will be at inferior conjunction with the sun, which means it will pass in front of the sun as viewed from earth. Lucky for us, this time everything is lined up right and we will be able to actually see Mercury transit the sun. We’ll have more information on the transit in next week’s recording.

Comet Swan has been passing through the inner solar system for the past few weeks and briefly flared up to faint naked-eye visibility last week. The comet is now receding from Earth and will be growing fainter each day. Spaceweather.com has posted a gallery of images and has a finder chart for observers who still want to try to catch a glimpse of this comet.

In space news, NASA’s next mission to study the sun was launched last week. The Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory, called STEREO for short, includes two spacecraft and will be able to study the sun in three dimensions. More information and pictures of the night launch are available at www.nasa.gov/stereo

Just a reminder - all public viewing nights have changed start times due to the return to standard time.

Public viewing at the 16 inch reflector on top of Robert Lee Moore Hall is on Wednesday nights from 7 to 9 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 7 to 9 p.m. Painter Hall is located on 24th street about halfway between Speedway and Guadalupe and is northeast of the UT Tower.

Please note that there will be no public viewing at the Painter Hall telescope on Saturday nights when the UT football team has a home game starting after 5 p.m. Check mackbrown-texasfootball.com for current scheduling information. The game for November 4th is scheduled for 6 p.m., so there will be no public viewing that night.

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 viewing start time on nights when public viewing is cancelled.

Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report.