Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday March 30th through Sunday April 5th.
The moon is at first quarter on Wednesday April 1st so we’ll start the week with a waxing crescent moon and finish with a waxing gibbous moon.
Venus continues to shine brightly in the western skies after sunset and is setting at 11:30 p.m. at midweek. Over the course of the week, Venus will be moving closer and closer to the Pleiades open cluster and on Friday it will actually move through the cluster.
In the morning skies, Jupiter is rising at 3:30 a.m., followed by Mars and Saturn at 3:55 a.m. Mars and Saturn will be less than a degree apart from one another on Tuesday morning.
Mercury is sinking back towards the sun after greatest elongation and is rising at 6:15 a.m. at midweek, about an hour before sunrise.
In space anniversaries this week, Tuesday, March 31 marks 50 years since the Explorer 1 satellite re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere. Explorer 1 was the first satellite of the United States and launched on January 31, 1958 about 4 months after the Soviet Union’s Sputnik 1 became the first artificial satellite to orbit the Earth. Explorer 1 was the first spacecraft to detect the Van Allen radiation belt and was the first mission of the US Explorer program, which still operates today and has launched over 90 missions. Explorer 1 stopped transmitting on May 23, 1958, but it didn’t re-enter the earth’s atmosphere until almost 12 years later on March 31, 1970.
All public viewing events on UT campus telescopes are on hold for the time being. We will update the website outreach.as.utexas.edu with a new schedule when we are able to resume viewing.
Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers Report.