skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Tuesday January 19th through Sunday January 24th.

The first full moon of 2016 falls late on Saturday into Sunday morning depending on your time zone so we'll have a waxing gibbous moon for all of the work week. The full moon of January is known as the Old Moon, the Moon After Yule, and the Wolf Moon.

With Mercury now back in the morning skies, we have to wait until Jupiter rises at 9:50 p.m. to see the first of the naked-eye planets. Mars follows at 1:30 a.m. and Saturn at 4:05 a.m. Venus is up at 5:10 a.m. and Mercury rounds out the group at 6:20 a.m. - about an hour before sunrise. If you time your viewing right, for the next few weeks you'll be able to see all of the naked-eye planets at once.

This week has two space anniversaries related to the exploration of the outer solar system.

Tuesday January 19th marks the 10 years since the launch of the New Horizons spacecraft, which finally reached Pluto last July after a 9 and a half year journey. Data continues to transmit from the spacecraft back to Earth and is expected to finish in fall of this year. You can see some of the photos received so far at pluto.jhuapl.edu.

And Sunday the 24th marks the 30th anniversary of the first - and so far only - flyby of the planet Uranus, made by the Voyager 2 spacecraft. Voyager got within about 50,000 miles of the planet's cloud tops and took close-up views of its 5 largest moons. While at Uranus, Voyager discovered 10 new moons and two new rings. Images from Voyager 2's flyby can be seen at the JPL's Photojournal website at photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov.

Public viewing on UT campus telescopes will resume next week. Please check back for details on dates and times.

Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers Report.