skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Tuesday January 3rd through Monday January 16th.

The full moon for the month of January is on the morning of Monday January 9th. This full moon is known as the Old Moon, the Wolf Moon and the Moon After Yule. The moon will be at third quarter on Monday January 16th.

Venus is bright in the west-southwest as we start the new year and is setting at 8:20 p.m. on the 3rd, 8:30 p.m. on the 9th and 8:45 p.m. on the 16th.

Jupiter is high in the south at 7 p.m. at the start of January and sets at 2 a.m. on the 3rd, 1:40 a.m. on the 9th and 1:15 a.m. on the 16th.

Mars is working its way back into the evening skies and is rising at 10:50 p.m. on the 3rd, 10:35 p.m. on the 9th and 10:10 p.m. on the 16th. Look for the moon alongside Mars on the night of the 13th.

Saturn is still up after midnight, rising at 1:45 a.m. on the morning of the 4th, 1:25 a.m. on the 9th and at 1 a.m. on the morning of the 16th. The third quarter moon will be alongside Saturn on the morning of the 16th.

Mercury will be sinking back towards the sun over the next couple of weeks and is rising at 6:05 a.m. on the 4th, 6:20 a.m. on the 9th and 6:40 a.m. on the 16th, just 50 minutes before sunrise.

On the night of Wednesday the 3rd the Earth will be at perihelion, our closest point to the sun in our orbit. The commonly quoted distance of 93 million miles is the average between the perihelion and aphelion distances. At our closest approach the Earth-Sun distance will be 91.4 million miles and in July when we reach aphelion it will be 94.5 million miles.

The Quadrantid meteor shower peaks on the night of Tuesday the 3rd into the morning hours of Wednesday the 4th. This shower typically has a short peak but the timing isn't always easy to predict, so watching for meteors for a few hours after midnight increases your chances of catching it. The meteors will appear to come from a point off the handle of the Big Dipper.

Public viewing on UT campus telescopes will start later this month. Please check back for specific information on starting dates and times.

Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers Report.