skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday October 4th through Sunday October 10th.

The new moon for the month of October is on Wednesday morning so we’ll start the week with a very thin waning crescent moon in the early morning skies and then we’ll have a waxing crescent moon in the early evening skies for the remainder of the week.

Mars is in conjunction with the Sun late on Thursday night and will slowly emerge into our morning skies over the rest of the month. For a short time around conjunction, no commands are sent to various spacecraft operating at and on the Red Planet because the proximity to the Sun can interfere with the radio signals.

Mercury is also in conjunction with the Sun this week when it will be in inferior conjunction on Saturday and will pass between the Earth and the Sun.

Venus is up in the southwest at sundown and is setting at 9:20 p.m. at midweek. Look for the thin crescent moon to pair up with Venus on Saturday night.

Saturn is up in the south-southeast at sundown and is setting at 2:20 a.m. Jupiter is up in the southeast at sundown and is setting at 3:35 a.m.

In space anniversaries this week, Wednesday October 6 marks 40 years since the launch of the Solar Mesosphere Explorer which studied the processes that create and destroy ozone in the atmosphere of the Earth. The satellite operated for 7 and a half years and reentered the Earth’s atmosphere in 1991.

Public viewing events on UT campus telescopes will resume next week! We will have the usual Wednesday nights at the Physics, Math, and Astronomy building (formerly Robert Lee Moore Hall) and this semester there will be viewing only on Friday nights at the Painter Hall Telescope and attendance will be limited. Please check back next week for more details.

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.