skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for January 3rd to the 8th.

The moon will be at first quarter on Friday January 6th.

The Quadrantid meteor shower peaks late on the night of the 3rd (technically the morning of the 4th). This is a good year for the shower, since the moon will have set by the time the radiant of the shower rises. The shower appears to originate from a point in the corner of the constellation Bootes, which rises around midnight. The name of the shower actually comes from the constellation Quadrans Muralis, which is no longer recognized among the 88 modern constellations. The Quadrantid shower produces an average of one to meteors a minute at its peak.

On the 4th, the earth is a perihelion, which is the closest point to the sun in its orbit. The earth is at its farthest point, or aphelion, in July.

Venus is still visible low in the west-southwest during evening twilight. Saturn is rising at 7:30 p.m. this week. Mars is almost overhead at about 8:30 p.m.

The Mars rover Spirit celebrated it’s second Earth year exploring the red planet on Tuesday the 3rd. It’s twin rover, Opportunity, will mark it’s second year on Mars later this month. Both rovers continue to function and send back some of the best pictures ever from the surface of Mars. To keep up with the rovers, log on to marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov

Public viewing is on hiatus until the start of the spring 2006 semester. Please call back in mid-January for starting dates and times.

Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report and Happy New Year!