skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday October 11th through Sunday October 17th.

The moon is at first quarter late on Tuesday night, so we’ll have a waxing crescent moon to start the week and a waxing gibbous moon for the remainder of the week.

Venus continues to shine brightly in the southwest at sunset and is setting at 9:20 p.m. this week. Look for the bright orange star Antares of the constellation Scorpius near Venus this week and the two will be a degree and a half apart on Saturday night.

Saturn is in the south-southeast at sunset and is setting at 2:00 a.m. at midweek. Look for Saturn to the upper left of the moon on Wednesday night.

Jupiter is in the southeast at sunset and is setting at 3:10 a.m. at midweek. Look for Jupiter to the left of the moon on Thursday night and to the upper right of the moon on Friday night.

Both Mercury and Mars are emerging from conjunction with the sun and are still lost in the sun’s glare this week.

In recent space exploration news, the BepiColombo spacecraft made its first successful flyby of the planet Mercury on October 1st, which would have been the 101st birthday of the mission’s namesake, Italian scientist and engineer Giuseppe Colombo. The mission has already made two flybys of Venus and will make 5 more flybys of Mercury before it enters orbit around the innermost planet in December 2025.

Public viewing at the 16-inch reflector on top of the Physics, Math, and Astronomy building (formerly RLM) is on Wednesday nights currently from 7:30 to 9:30 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. Masks are encouraged while visitors are in the building and in the telescope dome.

Public viewing at the 9-inch refractor at Painter Hall is on Friday nights currently from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Painter Hall is located on 24th street about halfway between Speedway and Guadalupe and is northeast of the UT Tower. Reservations will be required at the Painter Hall Telescope this semester. Please see the website outreach.as.utexas.edu and click on “Public Viewing on UT Campus Telescopes” for more information. Masks are encouraged at all times while visiting the Painter Hall Telescope.

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.