skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday March 27 through Sunday April 2.

The moon is at first quarter on Tuesday night, so we’ll have a waxing crescent moon on Monday and a waxing gibbous moon for the remainder of the week.

Jupiter is very low in the west after sunset and is now lost in the sun’s glare as it heads towards solar conjunction in a couple of weeks.

Mercury is above Jupiter and is moving towards its next greatest elongation from the Sun. Mercury is setting at 8:50 p.m. at midweek.

Venus is shining brightly in the west after sunset and is setting at 10:40 p.m. at midweek. Uranus is alongside Venus on Thursday night, but you’ll need binoculars to see it.

Mars is still high overhead as the sky darkens and is setting at 2:20 a.m. Look for Mars above the moon on Monday night and below the moon on Tuesday night.

In the morning skies, Saturn is rising at 5:45 a.m. at midweek.

In space anniversaries this week, Sunday April 2 marks 25 years since the launch of the Transition Region and Coronal Explorer or TRACE spacecraft. The spacecraft was designed to investigate the solar photosphere and corona and the transition region in between. Although its initial mission was planned to last one year, TRACE ended up operating for 12 years and 2 months when it was deactivated in 2010.

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.