Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for Monday November 17th through Sunday the 23rd.
The moon is at third quarter on Wednesday night, giving us a waning gibbous moon for the first two days of the week and a waning crescent for the remainder of the week.
Venus and Jupiter continue to be the best planets for early evening observing and also continue to gradually move closer to one another. Venus is setting around 8:15 p.m. at mid-week with Jupiter following at 9:00 p.m. Mars is still very close to the sun and cannot be observed. Saturn rises at 1:45 a.m. and Mercury is sinking back towards the sun as it heads towards conjunction next week. The moon and Saturn will pair up in the hours before dawn on Friday the 21st.
The Leonid meteor shower is due to peak this Monday morning, although there is a chance a second peak may come Tuesday morning before dawn. Unfortunately the bright moon will make this a very unfavorable year for observing this shower and the peak timings don’t favor North American observers.
The Space Shuttle Endeavour had a spectacular night launch on Friday and docked with the International Space Station on Sunday. The shuttle and station will make several passes over Texas this week, so log on to heavens-above.com to get the exact timing information for your location.
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. Please note that there will be no public viewing next Wednesday 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 public viewing next Friday and Saturday 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.