Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for December 9th through the 15th.
The moon is at first quarter on Wednesday December 11th. Saturn rises a little before 6 p.m. this week and Jupiter rises a little before 10 p.m. Mars and Venus are still paired in the morning skies, rising together a little before 4 a.m.
The Geminid meteor shower peaks this week on the night of Friday the 13th into the morning hours of Saturday the 14th. The moon will interfere somewhat with viewing until it sets around 2 a.m. This shower can be expected to produce about a meteor a minute under ideal sky conditions. The meteors will appear to come from a point in the constellation Gemini, which rises to the lower left of Orion. The Geminid shower is caused by the Earth passing through the debris of the asteroid 3200 Phaethon, and is not linked to a comet as is the case with most meteor showers.
Last week University of Texas astronomers Fritz Benedict and Barbara McArthur announced the results of Hubble Space Telescope observations to precisely determine the mass of a planet outside our solar system. For more information of their observations, please see the UT Astronomy Department website at www.as.utexas.edu
Public viewing is finished for the fall semester. Viewing will resume in mid-January. Please call this recording for spring semester times and start dates.
Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report.