Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday November 19th through Sunday November 25th.
The full moon for the month of November is late on Thursday night into Friday morning so we'll have a waxing gibbous moon for the first part of the week and finish out the week with a waning gibbous moon. This full moon is known as the Frost Moon and the Snow Moon.
Both Mercury and Jupiter are headed towards conjunction with the sun next week so they are now lost in the sun's glare.
Saturn is low in the southwest at sundown and is setting at 8:00 p.m. so time is running out to see the ringed planet until it passes behind the sun and re-emerges in the morning skies in early 2019.
Mars is high in the south at nightfall and is setting at 12:30 a.m. Mars has now dropped below 10 arcseconds in size and is at magnitude -0.2 as the distance between our two planets increases. In Mars news, the InSight Mission is due to land on the red planet at Elysium Planitia on Monday November 26th. You can learn more about the mission at mars.nasa.gov/insight
Over in the morning skies, Venus is rising at 4:20 a.m., about two and a half hours before the sun.
In space anniversaries this week, Tuesday November 20th marks the 20th anniversary of the launch of Zarya, the first module of the International Space Station. Zarya was launched on a Russian Proton rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Two weeks later, the Space Shuttle Endeavour brought the Unity module to orbit and attached it to Zarya, beginning the assembly of the ISS.
There will be no viewing on UT campus telescopes this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday. After this week there will be two remaining weeks of public viewing opportunities for this year until we go on hiatus between the fall and spring semesters.
Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers Report and have a happy and safe Thanksgiving Holiday!