skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday November 8th through Sunday November 14th.

The moon is at first quarter on the morning of Thursday the 11th so we’ll start the week with a waxing crescent moon and finish with a waxing gibbous moon.

Venus is still up in the southwest after sunset and is setting at 8:30 p.m. this week.

Saturn is up in the south as the sky darkens after sunset and is setting at 11 p.m. this week. The brighter Jupiter is to the left of Saturn in the south-southeast and is setting at 12:20 a.m. Look for Saturn to the upper right of the moon on Wednesday night and Jupiter will be to the upper right of the moon on Thursday night.

In the morning skies, Mercury is sinking back towards the sun and Mars is moving away from the sun after conjunction last month and the two planets will pass one another this week. Mercury and Mars will be less than 2 degrees apart on Wednesday morning, but they are also rising less than an hour before the sun so they might be difficult to observe.

In space anniversaries this week, Saturday November 13 marks 50 years since Mariner 9 became the first spacecraft to orbit another planet when it entered orbit around Mars that day in 1971. Mariner operated for almost a complete year in orbit and transmitted over 7000 images to Earth, mapping 85% of the surface of Mars. Mariner 9 is still in orbit around Mars but is expected to eventually enter the Martian atmosphere and either burn up or crash into Mars.

Public viewing at the 16-inch reflector on top of the Physics, Math, and Astronomy building (formerly RLM) is on Wednesday nights now from 6:30 to 8:30 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 now from 6:30 to 8:30 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.