skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday February 6 through Sunday February 12.

The moon was full on Sunday the 5th and will reach third quarter on Monday the 13th, so we’ll have a waning gibbous moon for all of this week.

Saturn is now setting just 25 minutes after the sun at midweek and is lost in the sun’s glare as it heads towards solar conjunction next week.

Venus is shining brightly low in the west-southwest and is setting at 8:15 p.m. Jupiter is shining brightly higher in the west-southwest and is setting at 9:50 p.m. Venus and Jupiter will gradually move closer to one another throughout the rest of the month until they reach their closest point in early March.

Mars is very high as the sky darkens after sunset and is setting at 3:00 a.m. Mars looks like a bright orange star and is a little brighter than two actual red-orange stars nearby: Aldebaran in Taurus and Betelgeuse in Orion. Comet C/2022 E3 ZFT will be near Mars on Friday and Saturday nights.

In the morning skies, Mercury is starting to move back towards the sun after last week’s greatest elongation and is rising at 6:00 a.m. at midweek, about an hour and 15 minutes before sunrise.

In space anniversaries this week, Saturday the 11th marks 10 years since the launch of Landsat 8, which is currently still in operation. The Landsat program has been observing the Earth for over 50 years and is the longest running program of its kind.

Public viewing at the 16-inch reflector on top of the Physics, Math, and Astronomy building is on Wednesday nights currently from 7 to 9 p.m. PMA 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.