skywatchers report

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

The moon is at first quarter early in the morning hours of Friday the 19th.

Look for the crescent moon below Jupiter in the southwest after sunset on Monday the 15th. The moon will be to the left of Jupiter on Tuesday. After dominating the evening skies for the past few months, Jupiter is now setting at about 10 p.m. so you’ll have to catch it in the first hour or two after sunset this week. Jupiter will pass behind the sun at the end of the year.

Mars is rising at 11:15 p.m. at midweek. Saturn and Venus are closely grouped in the morning skies, rising at about 4 a.m. The fainter Saturn can be seen above the brilliant Venus.

The peak of the Orionid meteor shower is on the night of the 20th into the morning of the 21st. This shower appears to come from a point in the constellation Orion the Hunter and peak rates should produce about 20 meteors an hour. The debris that causes this shower is from that most famous of comets – Halley.

Ten years ago on the 15th of October, the Cassini spacecraft launched on its mission to orbit Saturn. After a complicated path on its way to the outer solar system, Cassini arrived in orbit around the ringed planet in 2004. The Huygens probe detached from Cassini and landed on Saturn’s moon Titan in early 2005. You can read all about the mission and see many of the beautiful pictures from the spacecraft at http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov

Dr. Craig Wheeler will be presenting a public lecture on “Exploding Stars in an Accelerating Universe” this Friday at 7:00 p.m. The lecture will be in Welch 2.224 on the University of Texas campus and there will be pre-lecture activities starting at 5:45. For more information, please go to www.esi.utexas.edu and click on the section for the outreach lecture series.

Public viewing at the 16-inch reflector on top of Robert Lee Moore Hall is on Wednesday nights 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 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 mackbrown-texasfootball.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. Observing events are weather permitting. Please call 232-4265 for weather cancellation information, which is updated 30 to 60 minutes before the scheduled viewing start time.

Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report.