Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatcher's Report for December 4th to December 10th.
The moon will be in the waxing crescent phase of its cycle. The first quarter moon occurred a little before midnight on Sunday, but the full moon won't be until next Monday, December 11.
On the 8th, the moon will be a little above Saturn in the east after sunset. On the 9th the moon will be between Jupiter and Saturn. Since the moon will be close to full, it will somewhat hamper observations of the finer details on the two giant planets. On the 10th, the moon will be a little below Jupiter. Venus still dominates the western skies at sunset.
The constellation Orion is now above the horizon by 7:30, trailing a little behind Jupiter and Saturn.
Last week the Space Shuttle Endeavour launched on a mission to deliver two large solar arrays to the International Space Station. To follow the mission and watch live coverage of spacewalks, go to spaceflight.nasa.gov. The site also contains information on how you can see the shuttle and station from earth.
Wednesday night star parties at Robert Lee Moore Hall start at 7 p.m. The building is located on the southeast corner of Dean Keeton (formerly 26th street) and Speedway. Take the elevator to the 17th floor and follow the signs to the telescope.
Painter Hall public viewing is on Saturday evening and starts at 7:00 p.m. Friday nights are open to UT students, faculty and staff at 8:00 p.m. The building is located on 24th street about halfway between Speedway and Guadalupe.
This week will be the last star parties until classes resume at UT in mid-January.
All events are free and open to all ages and no reservations are required. Observing events are weather permitting.