Skywatchers Report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday April 2nd through Sunday April 8th.

The moon is at third quarter on Sunday morning so we'll have a waning gibbous moon for most of the week.

Venus is visible low in the west after sunset and is setting at 9:30 p.m. this week.

Over in the east, Jupiter is rising at 10:30 p.m. as it makes its way back into our early evening skies.

Saturn and Mars reached their closest point to one another on early on Monday morning when they were separated by less than a degree and a half. The two planets will move away from one another over the rest of the week. Saturn is rising at 2:10 a.m., followed by Mars about 10 minutes later by the end of the week. The waning gibbous moon will be above the pair early on Saturday morning.

Mercury is emerging from conjunction and is rising 25 minutes before the Sun.

In space anniversaries, April 5th marks 45 years since the launch of the Pioneer 11 spacecraft, which would be the first spacecraft to flyby and photograph the planet Saturn. After its primary mission, Pioneer 11 continued into the outer solar system and passed beyond the orbit of the planets in 1990. The final signals from the spacecraft were received in November 1995.

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.