skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday November 15th through Sunday November 21st.

The full moon for the month of November is early in the morning of Friday November 19th so we’ll have a waxing gibbous moon for most of the week and a waning gibbous moon on the weekend. This full moon is known as the Frost Moon and the Snow Moon.

We will also see a partial lunar eclipse with this full moon, which will be one of the longest partial eclipses that orbital cycles can produce at 6 hours and 2 minutes. This eclipse is also partial only on a technicality since just a tiny sliver of the moon won’t be in the umbra, the deepest part of the Earth’s shadow. For Austin, the moon will enter the shadow just after midnight as Thursday evening becomes Friday morning. The deepest part of the eclipse will be at 3:02 a.m. and the Moon will fully leave the Earth’s shadow just after 6:00 a.m.

Venus is still shining brightly in the southwest at sunset and is setting at 8:25 p.m. this week. Saturn is up in the south-southwest at sundown and is setting at 10:35 p.m. at midweek. Jupiter is up in the south after sunset and is setting at 11:50 p.m.

In the morning skies, Mars continues to move away from the Sun after conjunction and is now up almost an hour before sunrise. Mercury continues to move back towards the sun and its next solar conjunction at the end of the month and is now rising just half an hour before sunrise.

The Leonid meteor shower peaks on Wednesday night into Thursday morning, but unfortunately the nearly full moon will interfere with this year’s shower. The Leonids are caused by the Earth passing through the debris of the comet Tempel-Tuttle and historically has produced meteor storms but the usual rate of about 20 meteors an hour is expected this year.

Public viewing at the 16-inch reflector on top of the Physics, Math, and Astronomy building 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.

There will be no viewing on UT campus telescope next week due to the Thanksgiving Holiday.

Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers Report.