skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for April 9th to the 15th.

The moon is at last quarter on Sunday the 15th. Saturn and Jupiter are still visible in the west at sunset, while Mars rises at about 1 a.m.

Solar activity continues to be high while the sun is at the peak of its 11-cycle. Last week, the largest solar flare in 25 years was recorded, and smaller ones have been seen over the past few weeks. To follow the sun's activity and daily sunspot counts, log on to www.spaceweather.com

This week marks two milestones in the human exploration of space. On April 12th, 40 years ago, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first person to go into space. He orbited three times before returning to the earth. 20 years later to the day, the United States launched the space shuttle for its first orbital flight. Astronauts Young and Crippen piloted the shuttle Columbia during its 2 day long maiden voyage.

The telescope at Robert Lee Moore hall is now open to the public on Wednesday nights at 8:30 p.m. The building is located on the southeast corner of Dean Keeton (formerly 26th street) and Speedway. Take the elevator to the 17th floor and follow the signs to the telescope.

The telescope at Painter hall is open on Fridays for UT students, faculty and staff from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. and Saturdays are open to the general public from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. Painter Hall is located on 24th street about half way between Speedway and Guadalupe.

All events are free and open to all ages and no reservations are required. Observing events are weather permitting.