skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday October 19th through Sunday October 25th.

The moon is at first quarter on the night of Tuesday the 20th and we'll have a waxing gibbous moon for the remainder if the week.

Saturn is still visible low in the southwest at sunset and is setting at 8:50 p.m. at midweek so you should be able to get a little more viewing of the ringed planet in before it goes into conjunction next month.

The rest of the planets visible to the unaided eye are still up in the few hours before dawn. Venus is at its greatest elongation in the morning skies at the end of the week and then will slowly begin to work its way towards the sun. Venus is rising around 4 a.m. this week.

Jupiter is beginning to catch Venus in the morning skies and is rising about 10 minutes after Venus by the end of the week. Look for the two about 1 degree apart in the hours before dawn on Monday the 26th.

Mars also joins Venus and Jupiter and is rising about 20 minutes after Venus and 10 minutes after Jupiter by the end of the week.

Mercury rounds out the morning grouping of planets, but is much lower and rising at 6:20 a.m., a little over an hour before sunrise.

In space anniversaries, this week marks the 40th anniversaries of the Soviet Venera 9 and 10 spacecraft landing on the surface of Venus. Venera 9 became the first spacecraft to return photos from the surface of another planet and both spacecraft operated for about an hour before succumbing to the heat and pressure on Venus' surface.

Public viewing at the 16-inch reflector on top of Robert Lee Moore Hall is on Wednesday nights currently 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 currently 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 texassports.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 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.