skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for Monday February 12th through Sunday February 18th.

The new moon for the month of February is on Saturday the 17th.

Now that Mercury has reached its greatest elongation east, it is dropping lower and lower each night as it moves back towards conjunction with the sun. Venus, however is still rising each night since it won’t reach its greatest elongation until June. Saturn is rising at 6 p.m. and is visible all night. Jupiter is rising at 2:45 am at midweek and Mars is rising at about 5:20 a.m.

Orion the Hunter, one of the most recognizable constellations in our sky is now high in the southeast at about 7 p.m. this week. The bright star below Orion is the brightest star in our night sky, Sirius, the dog star.

This week a new spacecraft is set to launch on a mission to study the Northern Lights, also known by the Latin name, the aurora borealis. The mission is scheduled to launch on Thursday the 15th from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The spacecraft is actually a small armada of five probes that will lie on the sun-earth line. To learn more about the mission logon to www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/themis/ or look for the Themis mission news on the NASA front page at www.nasa.gov

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.