Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for Monday November 5th through Sunday the 11th.
The moon is new on the evening of Friday the 9th. The moon and Venus made a lovely pair on the morning of Monday the 5th and a very thin crescent moon will be above Mercury on Wednesday the 7th. Mercury is at its greatest elongation west on Thursday morning, so it will be at its highest point in the eastern skies before dawn that day. The other morning object is Saturn, rising at 1:30 a .m. at midweek.
Jupiter is still low in the southwestern skies at sunset and it setting a little before 8 p.m. this week. The other evening naked-eye planet is Mars, now rising a little after 9 p.m. Mars is now heading towards closest approach at the end of December and is slowly increasing in size and brightness.
Comet Holmes has continued to impress after it underwent a rapid brightening about two weeks ago. The comet, discovered in 1892 by British astronomer Edwin Holmes, orbits the sun between Mars and Jupiter. On the night of October 23 to the 24th, the comet was observed to go from about magnitude 17 to magnitude 3. Because magnitudes go on a logarithmic scale, that represented about a 400,000 fold increase in brightness. The comet has since brightened a bit more and is easily visible as a fuzzy yellowish extra “star” in the constellation of Perseus. Images and finder charts are available at spaceweather.com Once the constellation is high enough in the sky, we will be viewing the comet during the public viewing nights on campus.
Public viewing at the 16-inch reflector on top of Robert Lee Moore Hall is on Wednesday nights now 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. There will be no public viewing on Wednesday November 21st.
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. 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 November 23rd and 24th.
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.
Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report.