skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday January 16 through Sunday January 22.

The new moon for the month of January is on Saturday the 21 so we’ll have a waning crescent moon in the early morning skies for most of the week and have a very thin waxing crescent moon on Sunday.

Venus is shining brightly low in the west-southwest at sunset and is setting at 7:35 p.m. at midweek. Saturn is above Venus, and the two planets will move closer to one another all week until they are one third of a degree apart on Sunday. That evening, the pair will set at 7:40 p.m.

Jupiter is high in the southwest at 7:00 p.m. and is setting at 10:55 p.m. Mars is high in the east at 7:00 p.m. and is setting at 4:05 a.m.

In the morning skies, Mercury is rising at 6:00 a.m., about 90 minutes before sunrise. Mercury will be to the lower left of the very thin waning crescent moon on Thursday morning and above an even thinner crescent moon on Friday morning, but both will be challenging to pick out of the dawn twilight.

In space anniversaries this week, Monday January 16 marks 45 years since NASA selected its first class of astronauts that included women candidates - Shannon Lucid, Rhea Seddon, Kathryn Sullivan, Judith Resnick, Anna Fisher, and Sally Ride. All six women would go on to fly in orbit with Sally Ride becoming the first US woman and overall, third woman to fly in space.

Public viewing at the 16-inch reflector on top of the Physics, Math, and Astronomy building is on Wednesday nights currently from 7 to 9 p.m. PMA is located on the southeast corner of Dean Keeton and Speedway. Take the elevator to the 17th floor and follow the signs to the telescope.

Public viewing at the 9-inch refractor at Painter Hall is on Friday and Saturday nights currently from 7 to 9 p.m. Painter Hall is located on 24th street about halfway between Speedway and Guadalupe and is northeast of the UT Tower. Take the elevator to the 5th floor then take the stairs up to the 6th floor and follow the signs up to the telescope.

All events are free and open to all ages and no reservations are required. Note that viewing times and availability change throughout the year so please check the schedule before planning a visit. Observing events are weather permitting. Please call 512-232-4265 for weather cancellation information, which is updated 30 to 45 minutes before the scheduled viewing start time.

Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers Report.