Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for Monday November 12th through Sunday the 18th.
The moon is at first quarter on Saturday night. On Monday night, look for a slim crescent moon just below Jupiter, low in the southwest. The moon will be a little higher and to the left of Jupiter on Tuesday. Jupiter is now setting at around 7:30 p.m. Mars is rising at 8:45 p.m. at midweek. All of the rest of the naked-eye planets are in the morning skies, although Saturn is now rising at about 1 a.m., so it will soon be moving back into the evening skies. Venus is up at about 3:30 a.m. and it still very bright Mercury can be spotted rising over the eastern horizon about an hour and a half before the Sun.
This weekend is the peak of one of the most well-known meteor showers, the Leonids. The radiant of the shower rises at about midnight, after the moon has already set, making good dark skies for meteor watching. The meteors appear to come from a point in the question-mark-shaped top of Leo the Lion. This year is not expected to have any of the famous storm activity from past years, but some predictions are expecting up to 30 meteors an hour.
Comet Holmes has continued to impress after it underwent a rapid brightening about three weeks ago. The outer shell of gas from the initial outburst has expanded and the comet is now appearing a bit fainter, but a lot larger. The comet is easily visible as a fuzzy yellowish extra “star” in the constellation of Perseus. Images and finder charts are available at spaceweather.com
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.