Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for December 2nd through the 8th.
The new moon for the month of December is in the morning hours of December 4th for those of us in North America. Folks lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time will get to see a total solar eclipse on Wednesday. The path of totality winds through southern Africa, across the south Pacific and ends over South Australia and Queensland Australia.
Saturn rises around 6:30 p.m. this week, with Jupiter following behind at about 10:15 p.m. Mars and Venus will form a tight pairing in the early morning skies before dawn.
The familiar shape of the Orion the Hunter, one of the most recognizable constellations in the winter skies will be above the eastern horizon by 8 p.m. this week. Binoculars should show the famous nebula to the right of Orion's belt, the three nearly vertical stars in the middle of the constellation. Later in the evening, look for the nebula below Orion's belt as the constellation rotates as it crosses the sky.
The telescope at Robert Lee Moore hall is open to the public on Wednesday nights starting at 7 p.m. The building 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 will be the final Wednesday night star party for the fall semester. Viewing will resume in January.
The telescope at Painter hall is open on Fridays for UT students, faculty and staff from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. and Saturdays are open to the general public from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Painter Hall is located on 24th street about half way between Speedway and Guadalupe.
All events are free and open to all ages and no reservations are required. Observing events are weather permitting.
Please note that star party times change throughout the year. Please call this recording to check times before planning a visit to the telescopes.