skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday November 22nd through Sunday November 28th.

The moon is at third quarter early on Saturday, so we’ll have a waning gibbous moon for most of the week and begin the waning crescent phase on the weekend.

Mercury is in superior conjunction with the sun right before midnight on Sunday night here in the US central time zone. That night Mercury will pass behind the sun from the Earth’s point of view and will pass from our morning skies into our evening skies.

Venus is in the southwest at sunset and is setting at 8:25 p.m. Venus is now only about 1/3 illuminated but is shining at magnitude -4.6.

Saturn is up in the south-southwest and is setting at 10:10 p.m. at midweek. Jupiter is up in the south at sunset and is setting at 11:30 p.m. at midweek.

In the morning skies, Mars is rising at 5:50 a.m., about an hour and 15 minutes before sunrise as it continues to move away from the sun after conjunction in early October.

In space anniversaries this week, Friday November 26th marks 10 years since the launch of the Mars Science Laboratory, better known by its nickname “Curiosity”. Curiosity landed on the Red Planet in August 2012 and continues to operate on the Martian surface. Due to the size of the rover, Curiosity had to land via a complicated “sky crane” system as opposed to the airbag and retrorocket systems of previous US Mars landers. The successful use of the sky crane system paved the way for it to be used again with the Perseverance rover earlier this year.

There will be no viewing on UT campus telescopes this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday. Next week will be the final week of telescope viewing for the Fall 2021 semester. We anticipate resuming spring semester viewing in late January.

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