skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday November 21st through Sunday November 27th.

The moon is at third quarter early on Monday morning and will reach New Moon next week, so we'll have a waning crescent moon in the early morning skies for all of this week.

Both Mercury and Saturn are low in the west-southwest this week, with Mercury slowly climbing away from the sun a little each night and Saturn moving closer to the sun as it heads towards conjunction. The two planets will slide past one another on Wednesday and Thursday evenings but they may be hard to find since they are setting only an hour after the sun.

Venus is higher and brighter in the southwest as darkness falls and is setting at 8:20 p.m. Mars is up in the south-southwest and is setting at 10:30 p.m. this week.

Jupiter is still the only naked eye planet up in the morning skies. The gas giant is rising a little after 3:00 a.m. at midweek, about four hours before the sun. Early risers can catch a slim crescent moon above Jupiter on Thursday morning and below Jupiter on Friday morning.

In space anniversaries this week, Saturday November 26th marks the 5th anniversary of the launch of the Mars Science Laboratory that deployed the Curiosity rover on Mars in August 2012. The rover landed at the Gale Crater where it continues to operate and Curiosity's exact landing spot was named Bradbury Landing in honor of the late science fiction author Ray Bradbury. You can follow the continuing mission of the Curiosity rover at mars.nasa.gov/msl

There will be no public viewing on UT campus telescopes this week due to the Thanksgiving Holiday. Next week will be the final week of viewing for the fall semester. Spring semester viewing will start in late January.

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