Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday December 16, 2019 through Sunday January 5, 2020.
The moon will be at Last Quarter late on Wednesday December 18th and will reach New Moon late on December 25th. After New, the Moon will be a waxing crescent until it reaches First Quarter on January 2nd.
With the New Moon, the final eclipse of 2019 will occur when much of Asia will see a solar eclipse. This will be an annular eclipse with a center line that passes from the Arabian Peninsula, across the southern tip of the Indian subcontinent and through Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia. A partial eclipse will be visible in Asia, northeastern Africa, and the northern half of Australia.
Jupiter will be in conjunction with the sun on December 27th and will slowly start to emerge from the sun’s glare in our morning skies in the New Year.
Saturn is very low in the west-southwest as we end 2019 and will be in conjunction with the sun a couple of weeks into 2020.
Venus will be shining brightly in the southwest at sunset and will continue to climb higher in the evening sky throughout the winter and into the spring of 2020. Venus is setting at 7:50 p.m. on December 16th and at 8:30 p.m. by January 5th.
Mars is rising at 4:30 a.m. on December 16th and will be rising at 4:15 a.m. on January 5th.
Mercury is sinking back towards the sun as we finish 2019 and is rising an hour before the sun on December 16th but is lost in the sun’s glare as we start 2020.
The December solstice occurs at 10:19 p.m. on December 21st here in Texas when the Sun will reach its farthest point south of the celestial equator and brings the shortest amount of daylight for the northern hemisphere.
The Quadrantid meteor shower peaks on the night of January 3rd into the morning of the 4th. This shower can produce over a hundred meteors an hour at peak and this year the moon will set a little after midnight, so it won’t interfere too much with viewing.
On January 5th, 2020, the Earth will reach perihelion, its closest point to the sun for the year. The Earth will be a little over 147 million kilometers from the sun that day, compared to 152 million kilometers when it is at its farthest point from the sun in early July.
Public viewing on UT Campus telescopes has finished for the Fall 2019 semester. Spring 2020 semester viewing will start in mid-to-late January.
Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers Report and have a happy and safe holiday season!