Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday January 7th through Sunday January 13th.
The first new moon of 2019 occurred on Sunday January 6th and we'll reach first quarter early in the hours of Monday January 14th, so we'll have a waxing crescent moon in our early evening skies for all of this week.
Mars now reigns as the sole naked eye planet in our evening skies and it sets at 11:45 p.m. this week. Look for Mars above and to the right of the moon on Saturday night.
Early risers can catch a brilliant Venus high in the southeast before dawn. Venus is rising at 4 a.m., followed by Jupiter at 4:55 a.m. this week.
Mercury is now moving back towards the sun at it heads towards conjunction at the end of the month, but you might be able to catch it with a good view of the eastern horizon before sunrise.
Saturn is emerging from conjunction and is up just half an hour before the sun.
If you got a new telescope or astronomical binoculars for the holidays, now would be a good time to try them out and to look for the non-naked-eye planets in our solar system. Uranus is high in the south in the constellation Pisces at sundown and is setting at 1:30 a.m. Neptune is in the southwest in the constellation Aquarius and is setting at 10 p.m. Finder charts will be helpful in locating both of these outer solar system objects.
The earth was at perihelion, our closest point to the sun in our orbit, on January 3rd when we were 147.1 million kilometers away from our parent star. For comparison, at aphelion on July 4th, we'll be at 152.1 million kilometers from the sun.
Spring semester viewing on UT campus telescopes will begin in the latter half of January. Please check back for details on starting dates and times.
Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers Report.