skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for Monday November 26th through Sunday December 2nd.

The moon is at third quarter on Saturday December 1st. The moon will pair up with two planets this week. Look for the moon rising with Mars just to its right on Monday evening a little before 8 p.m. On Friday night, technically Saturday morning, look for Saturn just to the left of the moon.

Jupiter is setting about an hour and a half after the sun, so you’ll have to look low in the southwest shortly after sundown to catch it. Venus is rising at about 3:30 a.m. and is still very bright at magnitude -4.22 The bright star Spica in the constellation Virgo is to Venus’ right by about 5 degrees this week. Mars is steadily increasing in brightness and angular size and it heads towards its closest approach with Earth at the end of the year. The two intrepid and long-lasting rovers Spirit and Opportunity are continuing to explore surface the Red Planet as they head towards their fourth anniversary on Mars in January. You can follow the missions and read about recent discoveries at marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov

Comet Holmes is still growing but fading after its massive increase in brightness a month ago. The comet is still in the constellation Perseus and is still visible in binoculars and telescopes, but you will probably have a hard time seeing it with the unaided eye. Finder charts and photos are available at spaceweather.com

Public viewing at the 16-inch reflector on top of Robert Lee Moore Hall is on Wednesday nights now from 7 to 9 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.

Public viewing at the 9 inch refractor at Painter Hall is on Friday and Saturday nights from 7 to 9 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.

Next week will be the final week of public viewing for the fall 2007 semester. Spring viewing will resume in mid-to-late January.

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.