skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday March 19th through Sunday March 25th.

The new moon for the month of March is on Thursday, so we will have a waning crescent moon for the first half of the week and a waxing crescent moon to close out the week.

The spring equinox for the northern hemisphere occurs on either Monday the 19th or Tuesday the 20th depending on your time zone. For those of us on central daylight time it will be at 12:14 a.m. on the 20th. On this day the sun will rise due east and set due west and the amount of daylight and nighttime are roughly equal. Contrary to popular myth, there isn't anything special about the equinox that allows you to balance an egg on end or a broom on its bristles - with patience, you can do both of those things any day of the year.

Mercury and Uranus are both in conjunction with the sun this week. Mercury is at inferior conjunction with the sun on Wednesday the 21st so it will pass between the Earth and the sun that day. Uranus will pass behind the sun from our point of view on Saturday the 24th.

Jupiter and Venus are still visible in the western skies after their close approach to one another last week. Jupiter is now the lower of the two with Jupiter setting at 10:40 p.m. and Venus setting at 11:20 p.m. at midweek. Look for a thin crescent moon next to Jupiter on Sunday the 25th. Mars is up in the east as the evening skies darken and sets about an hour before sunrise. Saturn is rising at 9:30 p.m. at midweek and is visible for the rest of the night.

Public viewing at the 16-inch reflector on top of Robert Lee Moore Hall is on Wednesday night 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 night 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. 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.