Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday November 25th through Sunday December 1st.
The moon is at third quarter phase on Monday the 25th, so we will have a waning crescent moon in the morning skies for the remainder of the week.
Venus is still very bright and is hard to miss low in the southwest after sunset. Venus will be setting at 8:30 p.m. this week.
Over in the eastern skies, Jupiter will be rising just as Venus is setting and will be visible for the remainder of the night. Look for the familiar shape of Orion the Hunter to the south of Jupiter.
Mars is up at 1:35 a.m. at midweek and looks like a relatively bright orange star between the constellations of Virgo and Leo. Look for the crescent moon near Mars on Wednesday morning.
Mercury and Saturn are close to one another all week, rising about an hour and a half before the sun. Look for a very close conjunction of the two planets on Tuesday morning when they will be about one third of a degree apart. A very thin crescent moon will join the pair on Sunday morning.
Comet ISON continues to be an object of interest for amateur and professional astronomers alike as it heads towards perihelion - its closest approach to the sun - on Thanksgiving Day. To keep an eye on the comet during its pass by the sun, astronomers will be using telescopes designed for observing the sun, including the Solar Dynamics Observatory. The SDO team will have a special website for everyone to follow the event at cometison.gsfc.nasa.gov. If the comet survives perihelion, it will return to our skies and be visible again in the morning before sunrise, but also for a short time in the evening twilight after sunset. Stay tuned for more information in next week's Skywatchers Report.
There will be no public viewing on UT campus telescopes this week due 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.