skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday January 12th through Monday January 19th.

The moon is at third quarter early on Tuesday morning and we'll have a waning crescent in the early morning skies for the remainder of the week.

Mercury and Venus are still close to another low in the west-southwest at sunset as the week begins and will slowly separate as the week progresses. Mercury is at greatest elongation on Wednesday the 14th and then will slowly start to move back towards the sun. Both inner planets will be setting a little before 7:30 p.m. at midweek.

Mars is a little above Mercury and Venus and is setting at 8:45 p.m.

Over in the east, Jupiter is rising at 7:40 p.m. and is visible for the remainder of the night. As with last week, there will be several double shadow transits by the Galilean satellites on Jupiter's clouds this week.

Saturn is rising at 3:30 a.m. Look for the waning crescent moon to pair up with Saturn on Friday morning.

Comet Lovejoy has given comet spotters a nice treat for the New Year, climbing in brightness enough to be spotted with the unaided eye in dark locations. In the city, you'll probably still need at least binoculars to find the comet. Finder charts are available at stardate.org and skyandtelescope.com

In space anniversaries this week, Wednesday January 14th marks 10 years since the Huygens probe landed on Saturn's moon Titan, the first - and still only - landing on a body in the outer solar system. The Huygens mission only lasted for a few hours, but the Cassini orbiter that brought the probe to the Saturnian system continues its mission exploring the ringed planet. You can learn more about the mission at saturn.jpl.nasa.gov.

Public viewing on UT campus telescopes will resume in late January. Please check back for information on starting dates and times.

Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers Report.