skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for Monday January 25th through Sunday the 31st.

The full moon for the month of January is on Saturday the 30th, so we will see a waxing gibbous moon for most of this week. The full moon for the month of January is known as the Old Moon, the Wolf Moon, the Ice Moon and the Moon After Yule. This full moon occurs within hours of perigee, the moon's closest approach to the earth, producing the largest full moon of 2010. This combination will also cause particularly high tides.

On Friday the 29th, Mars will be at opposition, so it will rise at sunset and be visible all night long. Mars' closest approach to the Earth is a couple of days earlier on Wednesday the 27th. At this close approach, our two planets will be separated by about 62 million miles. For comparison, in the famous closest approach of 2003, Mars and Earth were separated by only about 34 million miles. Also related to Mars this week, Monday the 25th marks the 6th anniversary of the landing of the Mars Rover Opportunity on the Red Planet. And, look for the Moon and Mars to pair up on the 29th.

You can still catch Jupiter low in the west-southwest and it sets a little before 8 p.m. this week. Saturn rises at 10 p.m. this week. Mercury is at its greatest elongation west on Wednesday the 27th, so look for rising about an hour and a half before sunrise. Venus is still very close to the sun after conjunction earlier this month.

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.