skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday February 27th through Sunday March 4th.

The moon is at first quarter late on Wednesday night so we will have a waxing crescent moon for the first part of the week and a waxing gibbous for the remainder of the week.

Mercury continues to be a little higher each evening at sunset as it moves towards greatest elongation next week. It will set a little before 8 p.m. at midweek.

Venus is still the brightest object in the west after sunset and continues to moves towards Jupiter, the next brightest object in the western skies. Venus is setting a little before 10 p.m. at midweek. Jupiter is setting about 45 minutes after Venus.

Over in the eastern skies, Mars is at opposition on Saturday March 3rd, so it will rise at sunset and is visible all night. Mars won't actually be at its closest point to Earth in our respective orbits until a few days later. Saturn is rising a little before 10 p.m. at midweek and is visible for the remainder of the night.

Saturday March 3rd is the annual Explore UT open house on the University of Texas campus from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Department of Astronomy and McDonald Observatory will be on the roof of Robert Lee Moore hall doing a variety of demonstrations through out the day. For more information on the event, go to www.utexas.edu/events/exploreut or look for the Explore UT logo on the main UT homepage.

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. To get to the telescope, take the elevator to the 5th floor and exit to the left. Follow the 5th floor hallway to the end and take the staircase through the double doors on the left. Once you reach the 6th floor, go to your right 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. Observing events are weather permitting. Please call 232-4265 for weather cancellation information, which is updated 30 to 60 minutes before the scheduled viewing start time when a viewing is cancelled.

Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers Report.