skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for Monday February 5th to Sunday February 11th.

The moon is at third quarter early on the morning of Saturday the 10th.

On Wednesday February 7th Mercury is at its greatest eastern elongation, which means that it is at its highest point in the western skies after sunset. It is currently shining at magnitude -0.67, so it is visible even in the twilight. Venus is much brighter and to the upper left of Mercury. Uranus and Venus will be less than a degree apart on Wednesday. If you want to try to see Uranus, find Venus in binoculars or a telescope and then look to the lower left of Venus for the much fainter Uranus.

On Saturday February 10th Saturn is at opposition, so it will rise at sunset and be visible all night long. Jupiter is rising at about 3 a.m. and Mars is rising at around 5:20 a.m.

Last week the news came that the Advanced Camera for Surveys on the Hubble Space Telescope has stopped working. Unfortunately a replacement can’t be installed until the space shuttle servicing mission scheduled for September 2008. The remaining instruments on the telescope continue to function and will still be collecting data. To find out all about the Hubble and see its beautiful images, logon to hubblesite.org

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.

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 viewing start time on nights when public viewing is cancelled.

Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report.