Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday December 2nd through Sunday December 8th.
The moon is at first quarter on the morning of Wednesday the 4th so we’ll start the week with a waxing crescent moon and then have a waxing gibbous moon for the remainder of the week.
Jupiter is now very low in the west-southwest at sunset and is setting a little over an hour after the sun.
Venus is shining brightly in the southwest at dusk and continues to move away from the sun after its last conjunction. Venus is setting at 7:30 p.m. at midweek, now two hours after the sun.
Saturn is a little higher than Venus in the southwest at nightfall and is setting at 8:00 p.m. this week.
Mars is rising at 4:40 a.m., about two and a half hours before sunrise. Mercury is up at 5:45 a.m., about an hour and a half before sunrise.
In space anniversaries this week, Wednesday December 4 marks 45 years since the Pioneer 11 spacecraft made its flyby of Jupiter. Pioneer 11 reached Jupiter one year after its twin Pioneer 10 and passed within 34,000 kilometers of the giant planet’s cloud tops. After the Jupiter flyby, Pioneer 11 continued on and did a flyby of Saturn in 1979. NASA preformed its last routine contact with the spacecraft in September 1995 and received its last transmission in November of that year. The spacecraft is now the fourth most distant human-made object behind Voyager 1, Pioneer 10, and Voyager 2.
Public viewing at the 16-inch reflector on top of Robert Lee Moore Hall is on Wednesday nights from 7 to 9 p.m. RLM is located on the southeast corner of Dean Keeton and Speedway. Take the elevator to the 17th floor and follow the signs to the telescope.
Public viewing at the 9-inch refractor at Painter Hall is on Friday and Saturday nights from 7 to 9 p.m. Painter Hall is located on 24th street about halfway between Speedway and Guadalupe and is northeast of the UT Tower.
This week will be the final week of viewing on UT Campus telescopes for the Fall 2019 semester. Spring 2020 semester viewing will start in mid-to-late January.
All events are free and open to all ages and no reservations are required. Note that viewing times and availability change throughout the year so please check the schedule before planning a visit. Observing events are weather permitting. Please call 512-232-4265 for weather cancellation information, which is updated 30 to 45 minutes before the scheduled viewing start time.
Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers Report.