Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday December 5th through Sunday December 11th.
The moon is at first quarter early on Wednesday the 7th so we'll start the week with a waxing crescent moon and finish with a waxing gibbous moon.
Saturn is in conjunction with the sun on Saturday the 10th and it will move from our evening skies into our morning skies. Saturn will be lost in the glare of the sun for a little while but then will slowly emerge from dawn twilight over the first few weeks of 2017.
Mercury is at its greatest elongation from the sun early on Sunday morning and will be setting about an hour and 20 minutes after the sun that evening. After greatest elongation, Mercury will start sinking back towards the sun as it heads back towards its next conjunction with the sun.
Venus is easy to spot in the southwestern skies for a few hours after darkness falls before it sets at 8:45 p.m.
Mars is up in the south-southwest and is setting at 10:25 p.m. As the distance between Earth and Mars grows, the Red Planet's angular size continues to shrink. Mars was 18.6 arcseconds at closest approach in late May and is now at just 6.3 arcseconds in our skies.
Jupiter is rising at 2:40 a.m., about four and a half hours before the sun so early risers will have a few hours to observe the gas giant before dawn breaks.
Public viewing on UT campus telescopes has finished for the fall semester. Spring semester viewing will start in late January. Please check back for details on starting dates and times.
Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers Report.