Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for Tuesday January 19th through Sunday the 25th.
The moon is at first quarter on Saturday the 23rd so we will have a waxing crescent moon for most of this week.
Jupiter is still visible low in the west-southwest and sets at 8:15 p.m. at midweek. Mars is rising in the eastern skies at 6:30 p.m. and looks like a bright orangish star. Mars will continue to slowly brighten through the remainder of January as we head towards closest approach between Earth and Mars. Saturn is rising at around 10:30 p.m. this week.
Look for Mercury low in the southeast before sunrise this week. It will continue to get a little higher each day as it heads towards greatest elongation next week. Venus was in conjunction last week and is still very close to the sun.
NASA has started listening for signals from the Phoenix Mars Lander to see if it survived being buried in ice in the Martian arctic. Now that the polar ice has retreated, the spacecraft has been spotted by the HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, but so far no radio signals have been detected. You can keep up with all of the current Mars missions at mars.jpl.nasa.gov
Public viewing on the UT campus telescopes will resume next week. The 16-inch reflector at RLM will be open on Wednesday nights from 7 to 9 p.m. to start the semester and the 9-inch refractor at Painter will be open on Fridays and Saturdays, also from 7 to 9. Please call back next week for more detailed information.
Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report.