skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday March 20 through Sunday March 26.

The new moon for the month of March is on Tuesday the 21st so we’ll start the week with a waning crescent moon on Monday and then have a waxing crescent moon in the early evening skies for the remainder of the week.

Mercury is emerging from conjunction and is still too close to the sun to see.

Jupiter is setting an hour after the sun and will soon be lost in the sun’s glare. Look for Jupiter and the thin crescent moon to pair up on Wednesday night.

Venus continues to climb higher every night and is setting at 10:30 p.m. this week. Look for the crescent moon below on Venus on Thursday night and above Venus on Friday night.

In the morning skies, Saturn is rising at 6:10 a.m. at midweek, almost an hour and a half before sunrise.

The vernal equinox for the northern hemisphere occurs at 4:24 p.m. on Monday March 20th here in central Texas marking the beginning of spring. For our friends in the southern hemisphere, it will be the autumnal equinox and the beginning of fall. This is the point where the sun crosses the celestial equator, and the amount of daylight and night are approximately equal. For the northern hemisphere the amount of daylight will continue to grow until the June solstice.

Public viewing at the 16-inch reflector on top of the Physics, Math, and Astronomy building is on Wednesday nights now from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. PMA 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.