skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for October 15th through the 21st.

The new moon is on Tuesday the 16th.

Saturn rises around 9:30 in the evening this week and Jupiter rises around midnight. Also around midnight, the well-known winter constellation of Orion the Hunter is fully above the eastern horizon. Venus is rising at about 6 a.m. this week. Mars is still up in the south-southwest at sunset.

This weekend is the peak of another small autumn meteor shower which serves as a warm-up to the big shower of the Leonids next month. This shower appears to come from the constellation Orion, so it is known as the Orionids. The debris that creates this shower comes from probably the most famous periodic comet, Halley, which comes through the inner solar system every 76 years and last passed by Earth in 1986. When the earth passes through the stream of dust left behind by the comet's orbit, the particles enter our atmosphere and create a number of so called 'shooting stars'. In this case, the meteors will appear to come from a point in Orion, near the club that the mythological hunter carries. The constellation rises a little before midnight, by which time the moon will have already set, so it will not interfere with meteor watching. This shower typically produces about 20 meteors an hour at its peak.

Wednesday night star parties at Robert Lee Moore Hall start at 8 p.m. The building is located on the southeast corner of Dean Keeton (formerly 26th street) and Speedway. Take the elevator to the 17th floor and follow the signs to the telescope.

Painter Hall public viewing is on Saturday evening and starts at 8:30 p.m. Friday nights are open to UT students, faculty and staff at 8:30 p.m. The building is located on 24th street about halfway between Speedway and Guadalupe.

All events are free and open to all ages and no reservations are required. Observing events are weather permitting.