Skywatchers Report

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

The moon is new on Thursday evening so we'll have a waning crescent for the first half of the week and a then waxing crescent moon in the early evening skies this weekend.

Things are still lined up after last month's lunar eclipse, so there will be a partial solar eclipse visible with this new moon. To see it, you will need to be in southern South America, Antarctica, New Zealand, or eastern Australia.

Mercury is in superior conjunction with the sun on Saturday the 17th and will move back into our early evening skies alongside Venus, although both will still be lost in the sun's glare for a few more weeks.

The pre-dawn skies continue to be dominated by the remaining naked-eye planets with Jupiter rising at 12:50 a.m. at midweek, followed by Mars at 2:25 a.m. and Saturn at 4:10 a.m. Look for the bright red star Antares in the constellation Scorpius near Mars this week. The two objects have a similar reddish orange color giving Antares its name that translates to the "Rival of Mars".

In space anniversaries, Thursday February 15th marks 45 years since the Pioneer 10 spacecraft became the first human-made object to complete a crossing of the asteroid belt.

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. 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.