skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday October 25th through Sunday October 31st.

The moon is at third quarter on Thursday the 28th so we’ll have a waning gibbous moon for the first half of the week and a waning crescent moon in the early morning skies for the remainder of the week.

Venus is in the southwest at sunset and is currently shining brightly at magnitude -4.4. If you look at Venus with binoculars or a telescope this week you will see that it is currently half illuminated and looks like a tiny quarter moon. Venus is at greatest elongation on Thursday night when it will set at 9:20 p.m.

Saturn is up in the south at sunset and is setting at 1:00 a.m. at midweek. Jupiter is a bit to the east of Saturn in the south-southeast and is setting at 2:10 a.m.

In the morning skies, Mars is still emerging from conjunction and is rising half an hour before the Sun.

Mercury is at greatest elongation early on Monday morning and will rise at 6:15 a.m., about an hour and a half before the sun.

In space anniversaries this week, Friday October 29 marks 30 years since the Galileo spacecraft flew by the asteroid Gaspra on as it moved through the Asteroid Belt on its way to Jupiter. And 15 years ago, on Tuesday the 26th, the twin Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory spacecraft, known as STEREO-A and B were launched. Both spacecraft orbit the Sun in the same orbit as the Earth, with one ahead and one behind the Earth and were used to create stereoscopic images of the Sun and coronal mass ejections. STEREO-A continues to operate but contact was lost with STEREO-B in 2014 after nearly 10 years of operation.

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.