Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday December 3rd through Sunday December 9th.
The moon is at third quarter on Thursday December 6th so we will have a waning gibbous moon for the first half of the week and a waning crescent moon for the remainder of the week.
Mars is still visible low in the southwest after sundown and it setting at 7:35 p.m. at midweek.
Jupiter is at opposition on Monday December 3rd so it rises at sunset and sets and sunrise. It is also at its closest point to Earth in our respective orbits so it will be at its biggest and brightest this week, although it is still 378 million miles away. Look for the bright star Aldebaran to the lower right of Jupiter and the familiar winter constellation of Orion below Jupiter.
In the morning skies, Saturn is rising at 4:15 a.m. at midweek, followed by Venus at 5:05 a.m. and Mercury at 5:35 a.m. Mercury is at its greatest elongation west on Tuesday the 4th.
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.
This 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.