Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Tuesday January 21st through Sunday January 26th.
The new moon for the month of January is on Friday the 24th so we’ll have a waning crescent moon for the work week and a very thin waxing crescent moon in the west after sunset for the weekend.
Mercury is climbing higher in the west after sunset and it setting 40 minutes after the sun by Friday, although it will still be hard to pick out from the twilight.
Venus is high in the southwest and is setting at 9:00 p.m. this week. Venus is currently at magnitude -4.1 and 75% illumination. Venus will grow in size but shrink in illumination, but cumulatively it will get brighter through the end of April.
In the morning skies, Mars is rising at 4:00 a.m. and is up for a few hours before dawn.
Jupiter rises a little after 6 a.m., about an hour and a half before the sun. Saturn is still emerging from conjunction and is rising at 6:55 a.m., about half an hour before sunrise.
In space anniversaries this month – Tuesday January 14 marked 15 years since the Huygens space probe landed on Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. The probe was part of the Cassini-Huygens mission and detached from the Cassini orbiter on December 25, 2004 then landed on Titan a few weeks later, becoming the first spacecraft to land on a body in the outer solar system. Huygens descended through Titan’s thick atmosphere for two and a half hours and its mission ended shortly after landing on the moon’s surface.
Public viewing on UT campus telescopes will resume next week on Wednesday nights at Robert Lee Moore Hall and Fridays and Saturdays at Painter Hall. Please check back for details or check our website at outreach.as.utexas.edu
Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers Report.