skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for Monday January 11th through Monday the 18th.

The new moon for the month of January is on Friday the 15th so we will see a waning crescent moon in the morning skies most of this week. If you recall, there was a partial lunar eclipse at the last full moon, so things are still lined up enough for there to be a solar eclipse with this new moon. This solar eclipse is what is known as an annular eclipse which occurs when the moon is farther away from the earth and its angular size isn’t quite large enough to completely block the disk of the sun. What is left is a ring of sunlight around the moon. The path of the annular eclipse runs from central east Africa, across the Indian Ocean and to south Asia. A partial eclipse can be seen across most of eastern Europe, Africa and Asia.

Venus is in superior conjunction with the Sun on Monday the 11th. Over the next few months Venus will remerge into the early evening skies after sunset. Mercury is climbing a little higher each morning in the skies before dawn.

Jupiter is still visible low in the west-southwest in the early evening and sets at 8:30 p.m. at midweek. Look for a slim crescent moon near Jupiter on Sunday the 17th. Mars is rising at about 7:15 p.m. and Saturn is rising a little after 11 p.m.

Late last week, the space shuttle Endeavour rolled out to launch pad 39A in preparation for launch on February 7. The mission will bring the Tranquility node to the International Space Station. You can learn more about the mission and watch a video of the rollout at www.nasa.gov in the Shuttle and Station section.

Public viewing on the UT campus telescopes will resume in late January after the start of the UT spring semester. Please call back next week for information on the exact starting dates and times.

Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report.