skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for Monday December 3rd to Sunday December 9th.

The moon is new on Sunday December 9th.

Jupiter is setting at 6:30 p.m. at the beginning of this week and about 6:15 p.m. at the end of the week, so you’ll have to look for it in the evening twilight now. It will be in conjunction with the sun in a couple of weeks.

Mars is rising at about 7 p.m. and is shining at magnitude -1.4 and is 16 arcseconds in size. Mars will reach its closest approach to the Earth near the end of the month. Saturn is rising at 11:45 p.m. in the constellation Leo the Lion.

Venus is rising a little before  4 a.m. A slim crescent moon will be alongside Venus on the morning of Wednesday the 5th.

The space shuttle Atlantis is due to launch on Thursday the 6th. The shuttle will be delivering the European Space Agency’s Columbus Laboratory to the International Space Station. You can follow the mission at www.nasa.gov

Comet Holmes is still visible in our skies, although now most people will need binoculars or a telescope to see it. If you’re in a very dark location, especially now the moon is out of the way, you might be able to see the comet in the upper parts of the constellation Perseus. Spaceweather.com has finder charts and an extensive photo gallery.

Public viewing at the 16-inch reflector on top of Robert Lee Moore Hall is on Wednesday nights 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.

This 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.