skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday January 23 through Sunday January 29.

The moon is at first quarter on Saturday the 28th so we’ll have a waxing crescent moon in the early evening skies most of this week.

Venus and Saturn start the week still very close together low in the west-southwest after sunset and will move apart as the week goes on. By Thursday, Saturn will be setting at 7:25 p.m. and Venus will be setting at 7:50 p.m. The very thin crescent moon will be above Venus and Saturn on Monday evening.

Jupiter is high in the west-southwest at sunset and is setting at 10:30 p.m. Look for Jupiter above the waxing crescent moon on Wednesday evening.

Mars is high in the east at sunset and looks like a bright orange star. Mars is setting at 3:45 a.m. at midweek.

In the morning skies, Mercury is still moving away from the Sun as it moves towards greatest elongation early next week. Mercury is rising at 5:50 a.m. at midweek, over an hour and a half before sunrise.

In space anniversaries this week, Wednesday January 25 marks 40 years since the launch of IRAS, the Infrared Astronomical Satellite. IRAS was the first space telescope to survey the entire sky in infrared, which it completed over a nine-month period. The spacecraft was decommissioned in November 1983 after the liquid helium coolant ran out. IRAS is still in space in a geosynchronous orbit.

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.