Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday January 23 through Sunday January 29th.
The new moon for the month of January occurs on Monday the 23rd, so we will have a waxing crescent moon for all of this week. This is also Lunar New Year, ushering in the Year of the Dragon.
Venus is still easily visible in the west after sundown and sets around 9 p.m. Look for the thin crescent moon below and to the right of Venus on the 25th and above and to the right of Venus on the 26th.
Jupiter is high in the southwest as the sky darkens and sets at 12:40 a.m. at midweek. Mars is rising at 9:30 p.m. and is visible for the remainder of the night, followed by Saturn, which is up at 12:20 a.m. Mercury is now very close to the sun and difficult to see from the Earth.
January 25th will mark the 8th anniversary of the landing at Meridiani Planum of the Mars Rover Opportunity which still continues to explore the Red Planet. Opportunity is currently at its winter workplace at "Greeley Haven" named for planetary geologist Ronald Greeley who passed away in 2011. You can see all of the latest photos from Opportunity and keep up with all of the other Mars missions at mars.jpl.nasa.gov
Public viewing at the 16-inch reflector on top of Robert Lee Moore Hall is on Wednesday nights currently from 7 to 9 p.m. RLM is located on the southeast corner of Dean Keeton and Speedway. Take the elevator to the 17th floor and follow the signs to the telescope.
Public viewing at the 9 inch refractor at Painter Hall is on Friday and Saturday nights currently from 7 to 9 p.m. Painter Hall is located on 24th street about halfway between Speedway and Guadalupe and is northeast of the UT Tower. To get to the telescope, take the elevator to the 5th floor and exit to the left. Follow the 5th floor hallway to the end and take the staircase through the double doors on the left. Once you reach the 6th floor, go to your right and follow the signs up to the telescope.
All events are free and open to all ages and no reservations are required. Note that viewing times and availability change throughout the year. Observing events are weather permitting. Please call 232-4265 for weather cancellation information, which is updated 30 to 60 minutes before the scheduled viewing start time when a viewing is cancelled.
Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers Report.