skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Tuesday January 21st through Sunday January 26th.

The moon is at third quarter on the night of Thursday the 23rd so we'll have a waning gibbous moon for the first half of the week and a waning crescent moon for the remainder of the week.

Mercury continues to climb in the early evening skies, but is still fairly low in the west-southwest at sundown and is setting an hour and 15 minutes after the sun.

Over in the east, Jupiter already and shining brightly in the constellation Gemini as the sky darkens and is visible until shortly before sunrise.

Mars is rising at 11:45 p.m. at midweek, followed by Saturn at 2:15 a.m. Look for Saturn and the waning crescent moon close to one another in the early morning hours of Saturday the 25th. Venus has emerged from conjunction and is now up about an hour and a half before the sun.

In space anniversaries, the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity will achieve 10 years on Mars this Friday the 24th. Unlike its twin Spirit, Opportunity still continues to operate and is currently exploring an outcrop called Murray Ridge along the rim of Endeavour Crater. You can see images from all 10 years of the mission at marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov.

Public viewing at the 16-inch reflector on top of Robert Lee Moore Hall is on Wednesday nights currently from 7 to 9 p.m. RLM 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. To get to the telescope, take the elevator to the 5th floor and exit to the left. Follow the 5th floor hallway to the end and take the staircase through the double doors on the left. Once you reach the 6th floor, go to your right 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.