skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday September 29th through Sunday October 5th.

The moon is at first quarter on Wednesday the 1st, so we'll start the week with a waxing crescent moon and finish with a waxing gibbous moon.

Three planets line up in the southwestern skies at sunset this week. Mercury is low in the west-southwest and is setting less than an hour after the sun. Saturn is a little higher and to the left of Mercury and is setting at 9:20 p.m. at midweek. Mars is the highest of the three and is setting at 10:30 p.m. Mars is still near its stellar rival Antares, but it slowly moving away each night.

In the morning skies, Jupiter is rising at 3:20 a.m., while Venus is now up just 30 minutes before the sun.

In space anniversaries this week, Sunday October 5th marks the 30th anniversary of the launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger with a crew that included astronauts Sally Ride and Kathy Sullivan, making it the first spaceflight to carry two women into space at the same time. A few days later, Sullivan would become the first American woman to perform a spacewalk. She was beat out of becoming the first woman to perform a spacewalk by a few months by cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya.

Public viewing at the 16-inch reflector on top of Robert Lee Moore Hall is on Wednesday nights currently from 8 to 10 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 from currently 8 to 10 p.m. Painter Hall is located on 24th street about halfway between Speedway and Guadalupe and is northeast of the UT Tower. To get to the telescope, take the elevator to the 5th floor and exit to the left. Follow the 5th floor hallway to the end and take the staircase through the double doors on the left. Once you reach the 6th floor, go to your right and follow the signs up to the telescope. Please note that there will be no Painter Telescope viewing on Saturday evenings when the UT football team has a night home game. To check the football schedule, logon to texassports.com.

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.