skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday March 24th through Sunday March 30th.

The moon was at third quarter in the late night hours of Sunday March 23rd and will be new on Sunday March 30th, so we will have a waning crescent moon all of this week.

Jupiter is high in the south at nightfall and is setting at 3 a.m. so it is still well placed for several hours of viewing.

Mars is rising at 8:50 p.m. at midweek and is growing in brightness and angular size as it moves towards opposition and closest approach to Earth in the next  few weeks.

Saturn is slowly making its way back into our evening skies and is rising at 11:10 p.m. this week.

Venus is up in the east-southeast before dawn. Look for a thin crescent moon alongside Venus on the morning of Thursday the 27th.

Mercury is beginning to sink back towards the sun, although it is still up almost an hour before sunrise so you can catch it low in the morning twilight if you have a good view of the eastern horizon.

And speaking of Mercury: in space anniversaries this week, Saturday the 29th marks the 40th anniversary of the first flyby of Mercury, made by the Mariner 10 spacecraft. Mariner 10 went on to do two more flybys of the innermost planet and mapped about half of its surface. The remainder of Mercury would not be imaged for another 38 years when the Messenger spacecraft entered orbit around the planet, where it continues to operate today.

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. 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 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.