Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday November 12th through Sunday November 18th.
The new moon for the month of November is late on Tuesday, so we will start to see a waxing crescent moon in the west after sunset during the latter half of the week. If you are lucky enough to be in northern Australia or on a boat in the right parts of the South Pacific, you will be able to see a total solar eclipse with this new moon.
Mercury has moved out of our early evening skies and is at inferior conjunction on Saturday, when it will pass between the Earth and the Sun. Mars is still low in the southwest after sunset and is setting at 7:45 p.m. at midweek. Look for a thin crescent moon near Mars on Thursday and Friday. Jupiter is rising at 6:40 p.m. at midweek and is now well up in the east by 10 p.m. In the morning skies, Venus is up at 4:30 a.m. and is near the star Spica. Saturn is rising at 5:30 a.m., about an hour and a half before the Sun.
The Leonid meteor shower peaks this weekend, with the best viewing in the hours before sunrise on Saturday morning, long after the crescent moon has set. The meteors get their name because they appear to come from a point in the constellation Leo the Lion as the earth passes through the debris left from Comet Tempel-Tuttle. This shower is famous for producing impressive meteor storms of hundreds or thousands of meteors an hour, but this year is expected to be the more usual activity of 20-30 meteors an hour.
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.
Public viewing at the 9-inch refractor at Painter Hall is on Friday and Saturday nights now 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 public viewing on the UT campus telescopes next week due to the Thanksgiving Holiday.
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.