Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for February 12th to the 18th.
The third quarter moon is late in the evening of Wednesday the 14th. In the morning hours of the 15th, the moon will be close to Mars. The red planet is slowly gaining in angular size and brightness as the winter progresses. Mars will be at it's brightest and largest when it reaches its closest point to the earth on June 21.
Last week the space shuttle Atlantis successfully docked with the International Space Station and attached the Destiny science lab module. To follow the mission and see live coverage from NASA TV, log on to spaceflight.nasa.gov
This Monday, controllers of the NEAR Shoemaker mission, currently in orbit around the asteroid Eros hope to successfully land the spacecraft on the asteroid. The spacecraft's mission was scheduled to end, so controllers decided to attempt this tricky landing as the fuel was about to run out on NEAR. You can follow the landing attempt and see if it succeeds at www.space.com
The telescope at Robert Lee Moore hall is open to the public on Wednesday nights at 7 p.m. The building is located on the southeast corner of 26th and Speedway. Take the elevator to the 17th floor and follow the signs to the telescope.
The telescope at Painter hall is open on Fridays for UT students, faculty and staff from 7 to 8 p.m. and Saturdays are open to the general public from 7 to 9 p.m. Painter Hall is located on 24th street about half way between Speedway and Guadalupe.
All events are free and open to all ages and no reservations are required. Observing events are weather permitting.