Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for January 7th through the 17th.
The first new moon of the new year will be on Monday the 10th. The Moon will be at first quarter on Monday the 17th. The moon will be a perigee, its closest distance to Earth, on Monday the 10th, just a few hours before the new moon. This combination will lead to unusually large high tides.
Comet Machholz is at the limit of naked-eye visibility, but is easy to see in binoculars or a small telescope. On the 7th it will be alongside the Pleiades, also called the Seven Sisters, in the constellation Taurus. The comet will move into the constellation Perseus a few days later and continue towards Cassiopeia for the rest of January.
Jupiter is still a morning planet, rising at about 12:30 a.m. Mercury and Venus will be about a third of a degree apart low in the southeast on the morning of the 14th, shortly before sunrise.
Saturn is at opposition on the 13th, so it will rise at sunset and be visible all night long. Also that evening, the Huygens spaceprobe, released from the Cassini spacecraft over the holidays, will descend into the atmosphere of Saturn's moon Titan. To follow the mission, log on to saturn.jpl.nasa.gov
For more skywatching tips for the week, check out stardate.org
Spring semester viewing will resume mid-January. Please call back after the 18th for information on starting dates and times.
Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report.