skywatchers report

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

The moon is at third quarter on Saturday the 14th, so we’ll have a waning gibbous moon for most of week and start into the waning crescent phase as the week ends.

Venus is still low in the west-southwest after sunset and is setting at 7:20 p.m. at midweek.

Saturn is a little above Venus in the evening twilight and is setting at 8:15 p.m.

Jupiter is shining brightly high in the southwest at 7 p.m. and is setting at 11:15 p.m. at midweek.

Mars is high in the east at 7:00 p.m. and is setting at 4:30 a.m. Mars looks like a bright orange star near the V-shape Hyades cluster in the constellation Taurus.

Mercury was at inferior conjunction on the 7th and is now rising shortly before the sun in our eastern morning skies. Mercury is rising at 6:35 a.m. at midweek, nearly an hour before sunrise.

In space anniversaries this week, Friday January 13 marks 20 years since the launch of NASA’s ICESat, part of the agency’s Earth Observing System. ICESat stands for “Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite” and was designed to measure ice sheet mass, clouds and aerosols, and land vegetation coverage and topography. The mission was designed to operate for up to five years but ended up operating until early 2010 after seven years in orbit. After the mission was concluded, the spacecraft was deorbited and entered the Earth’s atmosphere on August 30, 2010.

Spring semester public viewing on UT campus telescopes will resume soon. Please check back for details on starting dates and times.

Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers Report.