Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday April 14th through Sunday April 20th.
The full moon for the month of April is on the night of Monday in to the morning hours of Tuesday night. This full moon is known as the Egg Moon and the Grass Moon. This full moon is also a total lunar eclipse that will be visible for a large part of the planet, including North America. For the central time zone, the partial eclipse starts at around 1 a.m. and will be fully eclipsed by 2:06 a.m. The total phase will last about an hour and 20 minutes, ending at 3:24 a.m. Due to the late hour of the eclipse, there will be no special public viewing on UT campus telescopes for this event.
Jupiter is high in the west at nightfall and is setting at 1:45 a.m. at midweek.
Mars is up in the east-southeast at sunset and is visible for most of the rest of the night. The Earth and Mars are at their closest point to one another in orbit on the morning of Monday the 14th, when Mars will also be close to the moon in our skies. The respective orbits of Earth and Mars cause them to be at their closest point every 26 months and how close that point is varies from orbit to orbit. This close approach is about 58 million miles, compared with 35 million miles at the most favorable close approach coming up in 2018.
Saturn is rising at 9:40 p.m. at midweek and is visible for the entire remainder of the night. Look for Saturn just off the limb of the moon on Wednesday night.
Venus is up at 5:00 a.m. and is still shining brightly. Mercury is up only 20 minutes before the Sun at midweek as it heads towards conjunction next week.
Public viewing at the 16-inch reflector on top of Robert Lee Moore Hall is on Wednesday nights now from 8:30 to 10:30 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 now from 8:30 to 10:30 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.
All events are free and open to all ages and no reservations are required. Note that viewing times and availability change throughout the year so please check the schedule before planning a visit. Observing events are weather permitting. Please call 512-232-4265 for weather cancellation information, which is updated 30 to 45 minutes before the scheduled viewing start time.
Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers Report.