skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday October 18th through Sunday October 24th.

The moon is full on Wednesday the 20th so we’ll start the week with a waxing gibbous moon and then have a waning gibbous moon for the remainder of the week. The full moon of October is known as the Hunters Moon and the Dying Grass Moon.

Venus continues to shine brightly in the southwest at sunset and is setting at 9:20 p.m.

Saturn is up in the south by 8:00 p.m. and is setting at 1:25 a.m. at midweek. Jupiter is in the south southeast as the sky darkens after sunset and is setting at 2:35 a.m. at midweek.

Mars is still too close to the sun to observe as it emerges from conjunction. Mercury is a little higher and is rising at 6:15 a.m. at midweek, about an hour and 20 minutes before sunrise.

Thursday evening presents a good opportunity to use binoculars or a small telescope to see the planet Uranus, which will be 1.3 degrees above the moon that evening.

In space anniversaries this week, Sunday October 24th marks 20 years since the Mars Odyssey spacecraft arrived at the Red Planet and began maneuvers to enter orbit, where the spacecraft continues to operate. In addition to its own scientific mission and discoveries, Odyssey acts as a relay for surface missions on Mars and is expected to continue operating in orbit until at least 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.

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.