Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday November 15th through Sunday the 21st.
The full moon for the month of November is on Sunday the 21st, so we will have a waxing gibbous moon for most of the week. This full moon is known as the Frost Moon and the Snow Moon.
The gibbous moon will interfere a little with the peak of this year's Leonid Meteor Shower, but the moon will set by 2 to 3 a.m. so there will still be a few hours of dark viewing before dawn. The highest meteor activity will be before dawn on the mornings of Wednesday the 17th and Thursday the 18th. Although we aren't expecting activity of the meteor storm level we've seen in years past, this shower is usually reliable for producing 20 to 30 meteors an hour in years with average activity. The Leonids get their name because they appear to come from the constellation Leo the Lion. The radiant of the shower rises around midnight and is nearly overhead by the time the sun rises. The debris that is burning up in our atmosphere to produce the shower comes from the Comet Tempel-Tuttle.
Mercury and Mars are close together low in the southwest shortly after sunset. The two planets will be about one and a half degree apart on Sunday. The pair of planets will be setting around 6:30 that evening.
Jupiter is high in the southeast after sunset and is setting a little after 2 a.m. this week. Look for Jupiter and the moon to pair up on the night of the 15th and 16th.
In the morning skies, look for Saturn rising at 3:30 a.m. and Venus is rising at 4:45 a.m.
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 Wednesday night star party on November 24th due to the Thanksgiving Holiday.
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. There will be no viewing at the Painter Hall Telescope on the 26th and 27th 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.