skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report for November 21st through the 27th.

The moon is at third quarter on Wednesday night, rising around midnight. Saturn will be visible next to the moon on Monday night, with the pair rising at about 10:30 p.m. The Cassini spacecraft continues to orbit and send back spectacular images of Saturn and its moons, including some of the small icy shepherd moons associated with the planet’s magnificent rings. All of the latest images, including the raw photos, are available at saturn.jpl.nasa.gov

Venus is still visible in the southwest until it sets at 8:30 p.m. early in the week. The bright stars that might be visible around Venus are the stars that make up the constellation Sagittarius. The Venus Express mission successfully launched on November 9th and is due to enter orbit around Venus in April 2006.

Mars is high in the east at 7:00 p.m. this week. A whole slew of spacecraft and landers continue to study the Red Planet, including the two rovers Spirit and Opportunity, which have been exploring Mars for nearly two Earth years now. On the 21st, the Spirit rover marked one Martian year on the planet. A Martian year is 687 Earth days long. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which launched on August 12th of this year, passed the halfway point on its flight to Mars. It will enter orbit on March 10th, 2006. To keep up with all the current Mars missions, logon to mars.jpl.nasa.gov

There will be no public viewing this week due to the Thanksgiving Holiday.

Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers' Report and have a happy and safe Thanksgiving holiday weekend.