Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday November 20th through Sunday November 26th.
The moon is at first quarter on Sunday November 26th so we'll have a waxing crescent moon in our evening skies for all of this week.
Mercury is at greatest elongation on Thursday evening and will be setting around 6:50 p.m. this week, about an hour and 20 minutes after the sun. Even at greatest elongation though, Mercury is still pretty low in the west-southwest so you'll need a good view of the western horizon to catch it.
Saturn is also low in the southwest, but a bit above Mercury and is setting at 9:10 p.m. at midweek. A very thin crescent moon will be a few degrees from Saturn on Monday evening.
In the morning skies, Mars is rising at 3:50 a.m., now over three hours before sunrise. Mars is currently only 4 arc seconds in diameter and is at magnitude +1.7, but as our two planets move closer together over the next 8 months it will grow in size and brightness. Mars' next close approach to the Earth will be July 27, 2018 which will be nearly as close as the famous opposition of August 2003.
Jupiter is rising at 5:20 a.m., just shy of two hours before sunrise. Jupiter continues to move away from the sun after last month's conjunction. Jupiter will reach its next opposition in May 2018.
Venus rounds out the morning planets rising at 6:10 a.m., about an hour before sunrise. Venus is sinking back towards the sun as it heads towards its first conjunction of 2018 just one week into the new year.
There will be no viewing on UT Campus telescopes this week due to the Thanksgiving Holiday. There will be two more weeks of public viewing at UT until we break between semesters. Spring semester viewing will resume in the latter half of January.
Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers Report and have a happy and safe Thanksgiving Holiday!