Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday March 19th through Sunday March 25th.
The moon is at first quarter on Saturday March 24th so we'll have a waxing crescent moon in our early evening skies for almost all of this week.
The northern hemisphere's spring equinox occurs at 11:15 a.m. for the US central time zone on Tuesday March 20th. This is the point where the sun crosses the celestial equator and the amount of daylight and night time are roughly equal. For the northern hemisphere the daylight will continue to grow until we hit our summer solstice in June. The opposite is the case in the southern hemisphere which will see their days shorten until their winter solstice in June.
Mercury is now sinking back towards the sun, but still far enough away that you should be able to catch it with a good view of the western skies at sunset. Mercury is setting at 8:50 p.m. at midweek, with the brighter Venus to its upper left which should make the usually elusive Mercury easier to find.
Jupiter is rising at 11:25 p.m. as it makes its way towards opposition in early May. Mars is rising at 2:35 a.m., followed by Saturn at 3:00 a.m. so we still have a while to wait before they come back to our early evening skies.
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.
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.