Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Wednesday January 3rd through Sunday January 7th.
The moon was full to start the new year and will reach third quarter on Monday the 8th, so we'll have a waning gibbous moon for the remainder of this week.
The Earth is at perihelion, our closest point to the sun in our orbit, late on the night of January 2nd or early on the morning of January 3rd depending on your time zone. Earth's distance will be about 147.1 million kilometers or 91.4 million miles at perihelion and is at about 152.1 million kilometers or 94.5 million miles at aphelion in July.
The Quadrantids meteor shower peaks on the night of January 3rd. These meteors will appear to come from a point off of the handle of the Big Dipper and sometimes can produce around 120 meteors an hour at its peak.
For one more week, all of the planets visible to the unaided eye will be visible only in the morning skies, but Venus will soon move back into our early evening skies as January progresses.
Mars and Jupiter will be very close to one another all week and will be only 0.2 degrees apart on Sunday morning. Mars and Jupiter are rising just a little after 3:00 a.m. at the end of the week.
Mercury is rising at 5:50 a.m. at midweek, a little over an hour and a half before sunrise, so you should be able to catch it with a good view of the eastern horizon.
Saturn is rising at 6:30 a.m. as it continues to emerge from conjunction with the sun. Venus is heading towards conjunction next week and is lost in the sun's glare.
Public viewing on UT campus telescopes for the spring semester will start in late January. Please check back for details on starting dates and times.
Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers Report.