Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday October 14th through Sunday October 20th.
The full moon for October was on Sunday the 13th and the moon will be at third quarter on Monday the 21st, so we'll have a waning gibbous moon for the whole week.
Venus is low in the west after sunset and is setting a little less than an hour after the sun.
Mercury is at greatest elongation from the Sun on Sunday the 20th and is setting at 8:00 p.m. this week.
Jupiter is up in the southwest at sunset and is setting a little after 10 p.m. this week, so time is running out to catch the gas giant in our early evening skies.
Saturn is still high in the south at sunset and is setting a little before midnight this week.
Mars is rising at 6:25 a.m., about an hour before the Sun.
In space anniversaries this week, Friday October 18 marks 30 years since the Galileo spacecraft was launched from the Space Shuttle Atlantis. Galileo used several gravitational slingshots in the inner solar system to achieve the velocity needed to reach Jupiter, its ultimate destination. On the way through the main asteroid belt, Galileo made flybys of the asteroids Gaspra and Ida and discovered that Ida had a small moon which was later named Dactyl. As Galileo approached Jupiter it released an atmospheric probe that entered Jupiter's clouds on December 7, 1995 which operated for just under an hour before it was crushed by the atmosphere's pressure. The following day, the main Galileo spacecraft became the first human-made object to enter orbit around Jupiter. The mission ended on September 21, 2003 with a controlled descent into Jupiter's atmosphere.
Public viewing at the 16-inch reflector on top of Robert Lee Moore Hall is on Wednesday nights currently from 8 to 10 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 currently 8 to 10 p.m. Painter Hall is located on 24th street about halfway between Speedway and Guadalupe and is northeast of the UT Tower. Please note that there will be no Painter Telescope viewing on Saturday evenings when the UT football team has a night home game. Logon to TexasSports.com to check the football schedule. This Saturday's game is scheduled to start at 6:00 p.m. so there will be no Painter Hall Telescope viewing that evening.
All events are free and open to all ages and no reservations are required. 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.