Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for Monday November 16th through Sunday the 22nd.
The moon is new on Monday the 16th, so we will have a waxing crescent moon all of this week. This also means that the moon will be well out of the way for the peak of the Leonid meteor shower.
The Leonid meteor shower occurs when the Earth encounters debris left from the Comet Tempel-Tuttle which comes through the inner solar system every 33 years. The streams of debris we will be encountering this year were laid down by the comet in the years 1466 and 1533. The meteors appear to come from a point, called the radiant, near the top of the constellation Leo the Lion, giving the shower its name. There are hopes of a strong outburst for the Leonids this year, but the timing appears to favor Asia. North American observers should still get a good view of about 20 to 30 meteors an hour on Tuesday morning, even if we don’t get the hundreds of meteors an hour that Asia might see. While you’re looking towards the constellation Leo, look for the red planet Mars nearby. You don’t need a telescope or binoculars to observe a meteor shower – just find a dark place away from city lights and look up!
Jupiter is still shining brightly in the early evening skies and is now setting at 11:30 p.m. Saturn is rising at 2:45 a.m. and Venus is now rising at 6:00, shortly before the sun.
The space shuttle lifted-off on schedule Monday afternoon. Atlantis will be delivering parts to the station and will have three spacewalks. You can follow the mission online at www.nasa.gov
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 viewing next week 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. Please note that there will be no Painter Telescope viewing on Saturday evenings when the UT football team has a night home game. This Saturday’s game is scheduled for 7 p.m., so there will be no Painter Hall viewing on the 21st. There will be no viewing 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.