Skywatchers Report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday March 9th through Sunday March 22nd.

The full moon for the month of March is on Monday the 9th. This full moon is known as the Sap Moon, the Worm Moon, and the Lenten Moon. This full moon will also be the largest in angular size for 2020. After the full moon on Monday, there will be a waning gibbous moon until we reach third quarter on Monday March 16th. Then we’ll have a waning crescent until we reach New Moon on Tuesday March 24th.

The March equinox occurs at 10:49 p.m. on Thursday March 19th Central Daylight Time marking the start of spring for the northern hemisphere and autumn for the southern hemisphere. This is the point where the sun crosses the celestial equator and the amount of daylight and night time are roughly equal.

Venus remains the only planet visible to the naked eye in our evening skies and at magnitude -4.3, it’s pretty hard to miss! Venus will set at 11:10 p.m. on the 9th and 11:20 p.m. by the 22nd.

In the morning skies, Mercury will be higher each morning throughout these two weeks, rising at 6:40 a.m. on the 9th and 6:20 a.m. on March 22nd.

Mars is rising at 4:20 a.m. on the 9th and 4:05 a.m. by the 22nd. Mars will gradually move closer to Jupiter over these weeks and will pass a little over half a degree from the gas giant on the morning of Friday the 20th. The waning crescent moon will be a few degrees from the pair on the morning of the 18th.

Jupiter is rising at 4:40 a.m. on March 9th and 4:00 a.m. on the 22nd. Saturn follows rising at 5:10 a.m. on the 9th and 4:25 a.m. by March 22nd.

Public viewing at the 16-inch reflector on top of Robert Lee Moore Hall is on Wednesday nights now from 8:30 to 10:30 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 now from 8:30 to 10:30 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.

There will be no viewing on UT campus telescopes the week of March 16th during Spring Break.

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.