Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for Monday November 24th through Sunday the 30th.
The moon is new on November 27th, so there will be a slim waning crescent moon in the eastern skies before sunrise at the beginning of the week. After Thursday, the waxing crescent moon will emerge in the western skies shortly after sunset.
The two bright planets in our southwestern skies – Venus and Jupiter – continue to move closer to one another this week. Venus is the lower and brighter of the two. On the 30th, look for the two separated by only 2 degrees with a crescent moon below them. Next Monday, the two planets and the moon will be even closer together in a tight and very photogenic cluster.
Mercury and Mars are both currently lost in the glare of the sun. Saturn is rising at 1:15 a.m. at mid-week.
In astronomy news, as most of you have probably heard by now, astronomers have obtained, using the Hubble Space Telescope and the Gemini and Keck observatories, the first direct images of planets around other stars. Up to this point, all of the evidence for extrasolar planets has been from spectroscopic and transit data, but these images show the actual planets, with their parent star’s light blocked. You can find out more about one of the observations at www.hubblesite.org and more about the other observations at www.gemini.edu
In space news, amateur astronomers on earth have been able to spot the toolbag that was lost by an astronaut during a spacewalk last week. You can see a video of the lost bag at spaceweather.com
There will be no public viewing on the university telescopes this week due to the Thanksgiving Holiday. Next week will be the final public viewing nights for the year. Spring semester viewing will resume in late January.
Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report and have a Happy Thanksgiving holiday.