skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for Monday October 29th through Sunday November 4th.

The moon is at third quarter on Thursday night.

Jupiter can still be seen in the southwestern skies after sunset and is now setting a little after 9 p.m. Mars is rising at about 10:30 p.m. at midweek. The waning gibbous moon will be above Mars on the night of the 30th and below Mars on the 31st.

Saturn is rising at about 3 a.m. and Venus, still shining very brightly, rises a little after 4 a.m. The moon will be above Saturn on Saturday morning and will be between Saturn and Venus on Sunday morning.

As I’m sure a lot of you have heard by now, the usually very faint Comet Holmes underwent a rapid brightening last week. The comet, which was discovered in 1892 by British astronomer Edwin Holmes, orbits the sun between Mars and Jupiter. On the night of October 23 to the 24th, the comet was observed to go from about magnitude 17 to magnitude 3. Because magnitudes go on a logarithmic scale, that represented about a 400,000 fold increase in brightness. The comet has since brightened a bit more and is easily visible as a fuzzy yellowish extra “star” in the constellation of Perseus. Images and finder charts are available at spaceweather.com Once the constellation is high enough in the sky, we will be viewing the comet during the public viewing nights on campus.

Don’t forget to change your clocks back an hour on Sunday morning as we return to Standard Time from Daylight Saving.

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. Next week we’ll move the public viewing times to 7 to 9 p.m.

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 Next week we’ll move the public viewing times to 7 to 9 p.m.

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 and have a happy and safe Halloween!