skywatchers report

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

The moon is at first quarter on Thursday the 27th so we’ll have a waxing crescent moon for the first half of the week and a waxing gibbous moon for the rest of the week.

Mercury is rapidly sinking back towards the sun and its next solar conjunction early next week, so it’s setting just 30 minutes after the sun by midweek.

Venus is up in the west-northwest and is setting at 11:30 p.m. as it continues to move away from the sun and towards its next greatest elongation.

Mars is still high in the west at sundown and near the stars Castor and Pollux in the constellation Gemini. Mars is setting at 1:30 a.m. at midweek. Look for Mars alongside the moon on Tuesday night.

In the morning skies, Saturn is rising at 4:00 a.m., now nearly three hours before sunrise. Jupiter is rising at 6:20 a.m., about 30 minutes before sunrise.

In space anniversaries this week, Friday April 28 marks 20 years since the launch of the Galaxy Evolution Explorer (or GALEX) mission. The GALEX spacecraft was a space telescope designed to observe in ultraviolet wavelengths to study the history of star formation in the universe. GALEX was decommissioned after operating for 10 years and the satellite itself remains in orbit but will eventually re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere.

Public viewing at the 16-inch reflector on top of the Physics, Math, and Astronomy building is on Wednesday nights currently 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. Next week will be the final week of viewing at the PMA telescope for the spring semester.

Public viewing at the 9-inch refractor at Painter Hall is on Friday and Saturday nights currently 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. This week will be the final week of public viewing at the Painter Hall telescope for the spring semester. Stay tuned for information about the summer schedule.

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.