skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday December 5th through Sunday December 11th.

The full moon for the month of December is on Saturday the 10th so we will have a waxing gibbous moon for most of the week and a waning gibbous moon on Sunday. This full moon is known as the Long Night Moon and the Moon Before Yule.

Back at new moon you might recall there was a partial solar eclipse, and the sun, moon and earth are still aligned for a lunar eclipse at this full moon. Here in Texas we won't get to see the whole eclipse because the moon will set before it is complete. If you're up early on Saturday morning look for a small chunk missing from the moon as it sets in the west-northwest at sunrise.

Venus is visible in the west-southwest evening twilight and is setting around 7:30 p.m. Jupiter is up high in the east at sunset and it setting a little before 4 a.m. Look for the moon and Jupiter together on Tuesday night. Mars is up around midnight and is visible for the rest of the night. Saturn rises at 3:15 a.m. and Mercury is reappearing from conjunction and is up about 45 minutes before sunrise at midweek.

This week a team of astronomers, including researchers from the University of Texas, announced the discovery of the two largest black holes found to date. Both are at the heart of galaxies hundreds of millions of light years away and measure around 10 billion times the mass of our sun. For comparison, these black holes are about 2500 times the mass of the black hole in the center of our galaxy, the Milky Way. You can learn more about the discovery at mcdonaldobservatory.org

Public viewing on UT campus telescopes has finished for the fall semester. Spring semester viewing will start in late January 2012.

Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers Report.