skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for Monday November 30th through Sunday December 6th.

The full moon for the month of December is in the morning hours of Wednesday the 2nd. This full moon is known as the Moon Before Yule and the Long Night Moon. After the full moon we will have a waning gibbous moon for the remainder of the week. With the full moon occurring so early in the month, there is time for a second full moon in December, which will happen on the last day of the year.

Mercury is still moving away from the sun in the evening skies, so you might be able to catch a glimpse of it shortly after sunset. Jupiter is in the southwest in the early evening now and is setting at 10:45 p.m. at midweek. Shortly before Jupiter sets in the west, Mars rises in the east and is visible for the rest of the night. Saturn is rising at 2 a.m. and Venus is up about 40 minutes before sunrise.

The space shuttle Atlantis landed on schedule last Friday after a flawless 11-day mission to the International Space Station. Returning on this mission was astronaut Nicole Stott who had spent the last three months on board the station. The next shuttle launch is set for February 4, 2010 when Endeavour will deliver the Tranquility node to the space station.

Public viewing at the 16-inch reflector on top of Robert Lee Moore Hall is on Wednesday night 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. This week is the final week of public viewing for the fall semester.

Public viewing at the 9 inch refractor at Painter Hall is on Friday and Saturday night 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.

This week is the final week of public viewing for the fall semester. Viewing will resume in late January after the start of the UT spring semester.

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.