skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for November 12th to the 18th.

The new moon for the month of November is early in the morning hours of Thursday the 15th.

The timing of this new moon could hardly be better for this coming weekend's Leonid meteor shower. The shower is named after the constellation Leo, which the meteors appear to radiate from. The periodic comet Tempel-Tuttle comes through our part of the solar system on a 33 year orbit, and leaves behind pockets of debris, which the earth then passes through causing the meteor shower. The small bits of comet debris, often no larger than a grain of sand, burn up as they enter the earth's atmosphere and leave behind a bright streak. When the earth passes through a particularly dense pocket of debris, the result can be a meteor storm thousands of meteors an hour. Some astronomers are predicting such a storm this year.

For the US Central Time Zone the best hours are predicted to be in the few hours before sunrise on Sunday the 18th, with most experts placing the peak hours between 3:00 and 5:00 a.m.

For the best view, get away from city lights, which will obscure the fainter meteors. This is one type of astronomical event that doesn't require and special equipment such as binoculars or a telescope, just find a comfortable spot and look up.

Wednesday night star parties at Robert Lee Moore Hall start at 7 p.m. The building is located on the southeast corner of Dean Keeton (formerly 26th street) and Speedway. Take the elevator to the 17th floor and follow the signs to the telescope. There will be no public viewing on Wednesday November 21st due to the Thanksgiving Holiday.

Painter Hall public viewing is on Saturday evening and starts at 7 p.m. Friday nights are open to UT students, faculty and staff at 7 p.m. The building is located on 24th street about halfway between Speedway and Guadalupe.

All events are free and open to all ages and no reservations are required. Observing events are weather permitting.

Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers' report.