skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday February 9th through Sunday February 15th.

The moon is at third quarter late on Wednesday night so we'll start the week with a waning gibbous moon and finish with a waning crescent moon.

Venus and Mars are still moving close to one another low in the western skies during evening twilight. Venus is the brighter of the two with Mars above it looking like an orange star. Venus is setting at 8:15 p.m. at midweek, followed by Mars just 20 minutes later.

Over in the east, Jupiter is now rising at 5:35 p.m. and is visible for most of the remainder of the night after last week's opposition.

Saturn is up at 2 a.m. at midweek and is currently visible in the top part of the constellation Scorpius the Scorpion. Look for Saturn below the moon on Thursday morning and above and a little to the right of the moon on Friday morning.

Mercury is rising at 5:55 a.m. at midweek, a little over an hour before the sun so you should be able to pick it out of the twilight if you have a good view of the eastern horizon.

In space anniversaries this week, Wednesday February 11 marks 5 years since the launch of the Solar Dynamics Observatory. SDO continues to observe the sun with a variety of instruments in several wavelengths of light. You can see up-to-date imagery of the sun on their website at sdo.gsfc.nasa.gov/data

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. 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.