skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday September 27th through Sunday October 3rd.

The moon is at third quarter on Tuesday night and then we’ll have a waning crescent moon for the rest of the week.

Mars is in solar conjunction next week, so it is now lost in the sun’s glare. Mercury will also be in solar conjunction next week, a few days after Mars, and is also mostly lost in the twilight now.

Venus is up in the southwest at sundown and is setting at 9:30 p.m. at midweek.

Saturn is now in the south-southeast as the sky darkens after sunset and is setting at 2:45 a.m. Jupiter follows behind Saturn in the southeast and is setting at 4:00 a.m. at midweek.

In space anniversaries this week, Saturday October 2nd marks 55 years since the launch of the ESSA 3 satellite. The Environmental Science Service Administration operated through 1970 and was the precursor of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. ESSA and NASA worked together on a weather satellite program that paved the way for the modern weather satellites of today. The ESSA 3 satellite operated for a little over two years until it was deactivated in December 1968.

And 10 years ago on Wednesday September 29th, the Tiangong-1 space laboratory was launched by the China National Space Administration and served as a test prototype for later larger Chinese space stations. Tiangong-1 operated on orbit for 7 and a half years and was deorbited into the southern Pacific Ocean in April 2018.

All public viewing events on UT campus telescopes are currently on hold through September. We hope to resume our in-person public programs soon, so please check back next week for more information as we continue to monitor the situation.

While you’re waiting for in-person telescope viewing to resume, you can tune in to McDonald Observatory live streams from west Texas. You can view past events on the McDonald Observatory YouTube channel and you can follow the observatory on TwitterFacebook and at McDonaldObservatory.org to be notified of future events.

Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers Report.