skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday December 9th through Sunday December 15th.

The moon is at first quarter on Monday the 9th, so we will have a waxing gibbous moon for all of this week.

Venus is still easily visible low in the southwest shortly after sunset and is setting at 8:10 p.m. at midweek. Jupiter is rising at 7:30 p.m. in the east-northeast and is still near the stars Castor and Pollux in the constellation Gemini.

Mars is rising at 1:15 a.m. at midweek, followed by Saturn at 4:45 a.m. Mercury is sinking back towards the sun and is rising at 6:35 a.m. at midweek and will be up just half an hour before the sun by the end of the week.

The Geminid meteor shower peaks this weekend, but like with the Leonids this year, the moon will be near full and will wash out the fainter meteors. The Geminids get their name because they appear to original from a point near the star Castor in the constellation Gemini. The debris that enters our atmosphere to cause this shower originates from the parent body 3200 Phaethon, an asteroid with an orbit more like that of a comet, which brings it very close to the Sun. Since most meteor showers come from the debris of comets, the Geminids are unusual in that they originate from a rocky body.

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

Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers Report.