Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for Monday December 18th through Sunday January 7th 2007.
The new moon for the month of December is on Wednesday the 20th. The moon is at first quarter on Wednesday the 27th. The first full moon for 2007 will be on Wednesday January 3rd. The full moon for the month of January is the Moon After Yule and the Old Moon.
The winter solstice for the northern hemisphere occurs on Thursday December 21st at 6:22 p.m. central standard time. Some calendars may list Friday the 22nd as the first day of winter, which it is if you use Greenwich time, where the solstice occurs at 22 minutes after midnight on the 22nd.
The cluster of planets around the sun is joined by the moon on December 18th though the 22nd. Mercury, Mars and Jupiter are visible in the morning shortly before sunrise and Venus can be glimpsed in the west after sunset. Over the next few weeks Mercury will be sinking back towards the sun and will reach superior conjunction on Sunday January 7th.
Saturn is rising at 9:45 p.m. on December 20th, and will be up at 9:15th by December 27th. On January 3rd, look for Saturn in the east shortly after 8:45 p.m. The moon will be above Saturn on January 5th and below Saturn on the 6th.
Public viewing on UT campus telescopes is finished for 2006. Open nights will resume in the second half of January 2007.
Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report and Happy Holidays!