skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday February 20 through Sunday February 26.

The new moon for the month of February is on Monday the 20th and then we’ll have a waxing crescent moon in the early evening skies for the remainder of the week.

Venus and Jupiter continue to shine brightly and draw closer to one another in the western skies after sunset. Venus sets at 8:40 p.m. at midweek, followed by Jupiter at 9:05 p.m. The very thin crescent moon will be below Venus on Tuesday night and the alongside Jupiter on Wednesday night.

Mars is still high overhead at nightfall and is setting at 2:30 a.m.

In the morning skies, Mercury is rising at 6:20 a.m., about 40 minutes before the sun.

Saturn is rising about 15 minutes before the sun as is emerges from last week’s solar conjunction.

In space anniversaries this week, Monday February 20th marks 30 years since the launch of the Advanced Satellite for Cosmology and Astrophysics, a joint mission of the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency and NASA. The mission observed the skies in x-ray wavelengths for over 7 years until it was damaged by a solar storm. The satellite reentered the Earth’s atmosphere the following year in March 2001.

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.