skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for Monday November 19th through Sunday the 25th

The moon is full on Saturday the 24th. This full moon is known as the Long Night Moon. The full moon occurs about 14 hours from perigee, the moon’s closest point to the earth in orbit, so high tides are expected. Look for the moon above the Pleiades star cluster on the 23rd and below the cluster on the 24th. The Hyades star cluster, the V shape the makes the head of the constellation Taurus the Bull will be below and to the right of the moon on the 24th.

Jupiter is now setting at 7 p.m., so you’ll have to look for it quickly after sunset. Jupiter is now about a month away from its conjunction with the sun. Mars is rising around 8 p.m. this week and located to the left of Orion the Hunter. Saturn is rising at around 12:45 a.m. so you don’t have to get up very early in the morning to see the ringed planet now. If you are up in the early morning, you can still catch a very bright Venus in the morning skies, rising three-and-a-half hours before the sun. Mercury is rising about an hour before the sun.

Comet Holmes has continued to delight and astound observers around the world. The outer shell of gas and dust from the initial outburst has expanded to a size larger than that of the sun. The comet isn’t as bright as it appeared a few weeks ago because it is more diffuse now, but it is still a very interesting sight in binoculars and telescopes. The Hubble Space Telescope got images of the mysterious comet at the beginning of November. You can see these images at Hubblesite.org. Meanwhile, more photos have continued to stream into the spaceweather.com gallery. Finder charts are also available at the site. The comet is now very close to the bright star Mirfak in the constellation Perseus.

There will be no public viewing on the UT campus telescopes this week due to the Thanksgiving Holiday. Regular days and hours will resume next week. The final week of public viewing will be the first week in December.

Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report and have a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday.