Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday November 23rd through Sunday November 29th.
The moon was at first quarter on Saturday the 21st into the morning of Sunday the 22nd and won’t reach full until early in the hours of Monday the 30th, so we’ll have a waxing gibbous moon all of this week.
With the full moon early on the 30th, there will also be a penumbral lunar eclipse which will be entirely visible here in Texas. Since the moon will be passing through the penumbra, the outermost part of the Earth’s shadow, it will be a much more subtle change and harder to see. For the US central time zone, the moon will be deepest into the shadow early in the morning at 3:45 a.m. on November 30th so that will be the best time to see the effect on the moon’s brightness.
Jupiter and Saturn are now in the southwestern skies as the sky darkens but there are still a few hours to view the gas giants before they get too low. Jupiter is setting at 9:05 p.m. at midweek and Saturn follows about 10 minutes later.
Mars is in the east-southeast at sundown and is setting at 3:25 a.m. this week. Look for Mars above the moon on Wednesday night.
In the morning skies, Venus is rising at 4:50 a.m. and Mercury is rising at 6:00 a.m., about an hour before the sun.
In space anniversaries this week, Thursday November 26th marks 55 years since the launch of the Asterix 1, France’s first satellite. The probe launched on the Diamant A rocket, making France the third country to launch a satellite on one of their country’s own rockets, following the Soviet Union and the United States. The satellite was launched for the French Army and it operated for 111 days before contact was lost.
All public viewing events on UT campus telescopes are on hold for the remainder of 2020. We will update the website outreach.as.utexas.edu with a new schedule when we are able to resume viewing.
While you’re waiting for in-person telescope viewing to resume, you can tune in to McDonald Observatory live streams from west Texas. You can view past events on the McDonald Observatory YouTube channel and you can follow the observatory on Twitter, Facebook and at McDonaldObservatory.org to be notified of future events.
Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers Report and have a happy and safe Thanksgiving holiday.