Skywatchers Report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday January 28 through Sunday February 3rd.

The moon was at third quarter late on Sunday the 27th and will be new on Monday February 4th so we will have a waning crescent moon in our morning skies for all of this week.

Mars is up in the west-southwest at nightfall and is setting at 11:25 p.m.

Mercury is in superior conjunction with the sun on Tuesday night when it will pass behind the sun from the Earth's point of view. After conjunction, Mercury will slowly emerge into our evening skies over the next few weeks.

Jupiter is now the first of the morning planets to rise when it comes over the horizon at 3:50 a.m. this week. Venus follows at 4:20 a.m. and Saturn rounds out the morning planets when it rises at 5:45 a.m. Look for a waning crescent moon above Jupiter on Wednesday morning and right alongside Venus on Thursday morning. A very thin crescent moon will be below Saturn on Saturday morning.

In space anniversaries, 35 years ago on February 3rd the space shuttle Challenger launched on a mission that included several firsts, including the initial tests of the Manned Maneuvering Unit. During an excursion with the MMU, astronaut Bruce McCandless became the first human to perform an untethered spacewalk. The mission was also the first space shuttle to land back at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Public viewing at the 16-inch reflector on top of Robert Lee Moore Hall is on Wednesday nights currently 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 currently 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. Take the elevator to the 5th floor then take the stairs up to the 6th floor 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.