Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for January 17th through the 22nd.
The moon will be at third quarter on Sunday the 22nd. On the night of the 21st, the moon will move in front of the star Spica, the brightest in the constellation Virgo. However, this occultation is only visible in Central Asia, southern Japan, the Philippines and New Guinea.
Saturn rises a little after sunset this week and is visible all night long. Mars is high in the sky as darkness falls and sets a little after 2 a.m. about the same time that Jupiter is rising in the east.
Over the weekend the StarDust capsule landed safely in the Utah desert. The capsule contains particles from the comet Wild-2 and a smaller number of grains of interstellar dust. To learn more about this mission, including information on how you can sign up to help analyze the particles, logon to stardust.jpl.nasa.gov
The New Horizons spacecraft is due to launch this week with the first ever probe destined to visit Pluto. The mission will be a flyby of the Pluto system, and will continue into the outer solar system to study the Kuiper Belt. You can follow the mission at pluto.jhuapl.edu
Public viewing on Fridays and Saturdays at the Painter Hall telescope will resume next week. Wednesday night viewing on the telescope at Robert Lee Moore Hall will resume the first week in February. Please call back next week for starting dates and times.
Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report.