Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Tuesday January 17th through Sunday January 22nd.
The moon is at third quarter on Thursday the 19th so we'll start the week with a waning gibbous moon and finish with a waning crescent moon.
Venus continues to shine brightly in the west-southwest at sunset and is setting at 9:35 p.m. at midweek.
Mars is above and slightly to the left of Venus and is setting at 10:05 p.m. this week.
Jupiter is rising at 12:15 a.m. this week. Look for the moon alongside Jupiter on Wednesday night into Thursday morning. The bright star Spica of the constellation Virgo is nearby as well.
Saturn is rising shortly before 5 a.m., about two and a half hours before the sun.
Mercury is at its greatest elongation from the sun on Thursday morning when it will rise at 5:50 a.m., a little over an hour and a half before the sun.
The familiar constellations of winter are now well-placed in the early evening skies. Orion the Hunter and its easy-to-find nebula are up in the east-southeast after sunset and are up until about 4:00 in the morning.
2017 will mark the end of the Cassini mission which has been in orbit around Saturn since July 2004. In April of this year the spacecraft will move to orbit between the disk of Saturn and its rings and then on September 15 it will make a final plunge into Saturn's clouds. You can see all the amazing images from Saturn so far and follow the mission's end at saturn.jpl.nasa.gov.
Public viewing on UT campus telescopes for the spring semester will resume next week. Please check back for details on starting dates and times.
Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers Report.