Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Tuesday January 20th through Sunday January 25th.
The new moon for the month of January is on the morning of Tuesday the 20th and we'll have a waxing crescent moon in the early evening skies for the remainder of the week.
All three of the other rocky inner planets of the solar systems are visible in the west-southwest at sunset this week, with the thin crescent moon joining them alongside Mars on Thursday. Mercury is starting to sink back towards the sun after greatest elongation last week and is setting at 7:05 p.m. at midweek. Venus is the brightest of the planets in the west and the easiest to spot. Venus is setting at 7:40 p.m. at midweek. Mars is above Venus and looks like an orange star and is setting at 8:45 p.m.
Over in the east, Jupiter is rising at 7:10 p.m. and is visible for the remainder of the night. As mentioned in previous weeks, this is a good time to spot the shadows of the Galilean satellites on Jupiter's clouds. This week in particular sees a rare treat of a pair of triple shadow transits late on Friday night. A Jupiter's Moons app or planetarium software will help you with planning observations of the event.
Saturn is currently rising in the east-southeast at 3:10 a.m.
Comet Lovejoy continues to delight skywatchers and is still bright enough to see from the city with binoculars or a small telescope. Finder charts are available at stardate.org and skyandtelescope.com
In space anniversaries, 5 years ago on the 22nd, astronaut T.J. Creamer sent the first live, unassisted tweet from space. Earlier tweets were relayed through mission control, but for the past 5 years astronauts have had the ability to tweet about their activities and post photos themselves. Several of the six current residents of the International Space Station are tweeting about life in space and posting amazing photos of the Earth from their vantage point in low-earth orbit. NASA maintains a list of current astronauts in space that is updated as crews change, which you can find at twitter.com/nasa/lists/astronauts-in-space-now
Public viewing on UT campus telescopes will resume next week. Please check back for information on dates and times.
Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers Report.