skywatchers report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday December 6th through Sunday December 12th.

The moon is at first quarter on Friday night, so we’ll start the week with a waxing crescent moon in the early evening skies and finish the week with a waxing gibbous moon.

Mercury is setting at 5:50 p.m. at midweek, just 20 minutes after the sun, so it is too close to our star to be observed.

Venus is still visible in the southwest at sunset and is setting at 8:15 p.m. Look for the thin crescent moon below Venus on Monday evening.

Saturn is up and to the left of Venus in the southwest and is setting at 9:20 p.m. Look for Saturn a few degrees above the crescent moon on Tuesday night. Jupiter is further up and to the left of Venus and Saturn and is setting at 10:40 p.m. Jupiter will be a few degrees above the crescent moon on Wednesday night.

In the morning skies, Mars is rising at 5:40 a.m., about an hour and a half before the sun.

In space anniversaries from this past weekend, Saturday December 4th marked 25 years since the launch of the Pathfinder mission, which landed on the Mars the following July 4th. The mission also included Sojourner, the first Mars rover, and at the time was the first successful mission to land on Mars in over 20 years. Pathfinder and Sojourner paved the way for the Spirit and Opportunity rovers - which landed in January 2004, the Curiosity rover – which landed in 2012, and the Perseverance rover - which landed in February of this year.

Public viewing on UT campus telescopes has finished for 2021. For now, we are planning to resume spring semester viewing as usual in late January 2022, but please check back in early 2022 for more details.
Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers Report.