Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday November 26th through Sunday December 2nd.
The full moon for the month of November is on Wednesday the 28th. This full moon is known as the Frost Moon or the Snow Moon. This full moon occurs within hours of the moon's apogee, its farthest point from Earth in its orbit, and it is the smallest full moon of the year. Technically there is also a lunar eclipse with this full moon but it is a penumbral eclipse, where the moon skirts through the outermost part of the Earth's shadow, and is therefore very difficult to observe.
Mars is still visible low in the southwest as darkness falls and is setting at 7:40 p.m. at midweek. Jupiter is up in the east by 5:40 p.m. and sets just a little before sunrise as it heads towards opposition next week. Look for Jupiter right next to the full moon on Wednesday night. Some southern hemisphere locations will actually see the moon obscure Jupiter momentarily in what is called an occultation.
The rest of the planets visible to the unaided eye are all up in the morning hours a little before sunrise. Venus and Saturn both rise around 4:45 a.m. and will be separated by about half a degree on Tuesday morning. Look for Mercury a little later, rising at 5:35 a.m.
Public viewing at the 16-inch reflector on top of Robert Lee Moore Hall is on Wednesday nights 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 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.
Next week will be the final public viewing nights for the Fall 2012 semester. Spring semester viewing will resume in late January.
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.