Skywatchers Report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday February 24th through Sunday March 1st.

The moon was new on Sunday February 23rd and will reach first quarter on Monday March 2nd, so we’ll have a waxing crescent moon in the western skies after sunset all week.

After reaching greatest elongation on February 10th, Mercury will be in inferior conjunction with the sun just 16 days later on Wednesday February 26th. Inferior conjunction occurs when Mercury passes between the Earth and the Sun, as opposed to superior conjunction when Mercury will go behind the sun from the Earth’s point of view. Venus is the only other planet that has both inferior and superior conjunctions, but all of the planets outside of the Earth’s orbit also pass behind the sun from Earth’s point of view.

Venus is still shining brightly in the west at sunset and will make a nice pairing with the crescent moon on Wednesday and Thursday nights. Venus is setting at 9:50 p.m. at midweek.

Mars is rising at 3:35 a.m., followed by Jupiter at 4:20 a.m., and Saturn at 4:50 a.m.

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.