Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for Monday January 12th through Monday January 19th.
The moon is at third quarter on the night of Saturday the 17th. The moon will pair up with Saturn in the late hours of Wednesday night.
Venus is still dominating the western skies after sunset. The planet reaches its greatest elongation east on Wednesday where it will be 47 degrees from the Sun. Besides Saturn, the rest of the planets visible to the unaided eye are too close to the sun to be easily observed. Mercury and Jupiter are both headed toward conjunction with the sun next week and Mars is just re-emerging from the Sun’s glare in the morning skies.
Venus is setting at 9:30 p.m. at midweek, but the remaining naked-eye planet won’t rise until about 40 minutes later. Fortunately there are some other nice winter objects to observe.
The constellation of Orion the Hunter, a perennial favorite, will be high in the south at 10:30 p.m. Look for Sirius, the Dog Star of the constellation Canis Major following behind Orion. Sirius is the brightest star in our night skies and only lies 8.6 light years from us, making it one of the closest objects to our solar system. On the other side of the sky, in the northwest, is one of the farthest objects you can see with the unaided eye if you’re in a dark location – the Andromeda Galaxy. Our neighboring spiral galaxy is about 2.5 million light years away.
Public viewing on UT campus will resume in late January. Please call back for more details in a few weeks.
Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report.