Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday December 4th through Sunday December 10th.

The moon is at third quarter on Sunday the 10th so we'll have a waning gibbous moon for all of this week.

Mercury and Saturn are still close to one another low in the west-southwest after sunset, but are now setting less than an hour after the sun and are mostly lost in the evening twilight after sunset. Both planets will be in conjunction with the sun over the next couple of weeks.

In the morning skies, Mars is rising at 3:35 a.m. followed by Jupiter at 4:40 a.m.

Venus is now rising less than 45 minutes before the sun and will be hard to spot in the dawn twilight.

In space anniversaries, Thursday December 7 marks the 45th anniversary of the launch of the Apollo 17 mission. This mission was the final expedition to land humans on the moon as part of the Apollo program. About 5 hours after launch, the crew snapped the famous "Blue Marble" photograph of the full disk of the Earth, which is thought to have become one of the most reproduced images of all time.

Public viewing at the 16-inch reflector on top of Robert Lee Moore Hall is on Wednesday nights currently from 7 to 9 p.m. RLM is located on the southeast corner of Dean Keeton and Speedway. Take the elevator to the 17th floor and follow the signs to the telescope.

Public viewing at the 9-inch refractor at Painter Hall is on Friday and Saturday nights currently from 7 to 9 p.m. Painter Hall is located on 24th street about halfway between Speedway and Guadalupe and is northeast of the UT Tower.

This week will be the final week of public viewing on UT campus telescopes for the fall semester. Spring semester viewing will resume in the latter half of January 2018.

All events are free and open to all ages and no reservations are required. Note that viewing times and availability change throughout the year so please check the schedule before planning a visit. Observing events are weather permitting. Please call 512-232-4265 for weather cancellation information, which is updated 30 to 45 minutes before the scheduled viewing start time.

Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers Report.

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