skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday January 14th through Monday January 21st.

The moon is at first quarter on Friday the 18th so we will see a waxing crescent moon for most of the week and a waxing gibbous moon on the weekend.

Mars continues to be visible low in the west-southwest after sunset and is setting at 7:25 p.m. this week.

Jupiter is still visible in high in the east after sundown in the heart of the constellation Taurus the Bull and above the constellation Orion the Hunter. Jupiter is setting at 4:00 a.m. at midweek.

Saturn is rising in the east-southeast at 1:45 a.m. and is visible for the rest of the night.

Venus is up in the east about an hour before sunrise as it continues to move towards its next conjunction with the sun. Meanwhile, Mercury is in conjunction the sun this week. The innermost planet will pass behind the sun from the Earth's point of view on Friday morning and will re-emerge in the early evening skies over the next few weeks.

Last week the asteroid Apophis made a close pass by the Earth and measurements taken during the fly-by have allowed astronomers to continue to rule out possible future impacts by the space rock. Apophis was discovered in 2004 and initial observations showed that it had a small chance of impacting the Earth in 2029. Calculations made from additional observations were able to rule out the chance of a 2029 impact, but indicated a chance of an impact in 2036. But last week's observations now rule out that possibility as well. You can keep up with the Near Earth Object Program at neo.jpl.nasa.gov

Spring semester public viewing nights on UT campus telescopes will resume the week starting Monday January 21st. Please check back next week for additional information.

Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers Report.