skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for Monday November 20th through the 26th.

The moon is new on Monday the 20th.

Many objects are still clustered around the sun, but a few will be moving away this week and will be visible soon. With the moon new early in the week, the total number of solar system objects near the sun is six, including Mercury, Venus, the Moon, Mars, Jupiter and Pluto. Jupiter is in conjunction with the sun on Tuesday the 21st. But, as the week progresses, the Moon will be visible as a crescent in the west shortly after sunset. The moon will grow a little bit and get higher in the west each day as it moves towards first quarter next week.

Mercury is also moving farther from the sun each day and will be at its greatest western elongation on the 25th. To catch Mercury, look to the east about an hour before sunrise. Mars will be peeking above the horizon just a little before the sun rises. The only planet visible most of the night is Saturn, which rises at 11:30 p.m. at midweek.

As we get near the end of the year, some familiar winter constellations are starting to rise shortly after darkness falls. By 7 p.m. the open clusters of the Pleiades and the Hyades in Taurus are up, followed by Orion the Hunter at 9 p.m. and the twin stars Castor and Pollux of the constellation Gemini shortly after Orion. At 10 p.m. Sirius, the brightest star in our night skies will be starting to climb over the eastern horizon.

There will be no public viewing this week at the UT campus telescope due to the Thanksgiving Holiday. Viewing hours will resume next week.

Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report and have a happy and safe Thanksgiving Holiday weekend.