In Manx skies... February 2018 ~ compiled by Dave Storey



Moon

New
15th at 21.06h

First Quarter
23rd at 08.10h

Full
No Full
Moon

Last Quarter
7th at 15.55h


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Note: All times are Universal Time (UT) = GMT = IoM local time.


There is a partial solar eclipse on the 15th . No part of this eclipse is visible from the Isle of Man. Click here for details.

Sun

Solar activity is low with solar cycle 24 now in force.

WARNING: NEVER DIRECTLY OBSERVE THE SUN WITH YOUR NAKED EYES AND/OR OPTICAL INSTRUMENTATION: YOU WILL BE BLINDED!

Carrington's Solar Rotation number 2201 starts on the 23rd at 14h50m59s.

Mercury

Starts the month as a morning sky object but will be lost in the dawn twilight sky. It passes through superior conjunction (far side of the Sun) on the 17th when is will pass 2° south of the Sun. After this date, it becomes a evening; post sunset object but due to its proximity to the Sun, it will remain non visible.

Venus

Will be difficult to spot in the evening skies, low down in the west soon after sunset. It will become visible during the last week of the month, shining at magnitude -3.9 in a bright twilight sky.

Mars


Will be found in the morning skies shining at magnitude +1.2 in Scorpius at the start of the month. It moves prograde (west to east) during the month, passing from Scorpius into Ophiuchus on the 8th. Mars will pass 5° north of the bright star Antares in Scorpius on the 11th and now would be a good time to compare the colours of these two objects. Both are red in colour and the name Antares translates to “rival of Mars”. Of the two, which one shows red the most? Of the two, Mars will be slightly brighter at magnitude +1.0 compares to Antares' magnitude of +1.1. Through a telescope, the disc of Mars will have an apparent magnitude of 5.6 arc seconds. By months end, it will have grown to +6.7 arc seconds. If you hope to see any details upon the planet's disc, wait until Mars is due south (at its highest elevation) and using a high power eyepiece, give it a go. However, due to the planet being well south of the celestial equator, it will be low in our skies and the telescopic image will be degraded by our planets atmosphere. (caused by poor seeing conditions).

Jupiter

Rises at 02.23h on the first, shining at magnitude -2.0. It will be low in the south in Libra during the month and moving prograde (west to east). By the end of the month, the planet will rise 00.47h and brightened slightly to magnitude -2.2.

As the moons orbit Jupiter, there are occasions when the shadow of the moons can be seen upon the surface of Jupiter and the moons can transit across Jupiter's disc. Also, the moons can be seen to be occulted or eclipsed by Jupiter. There are many events throughout the month. See periodicals such as the BAA Handbook, Astronomy Now and Sky at Night magazines for listings.

The Great Red Spot may be seen using a telescope in good seeing conditions. Using a light blue filter with an eyepiece will help. Opportunities to see the Great Red Spot from Mann occur on a regular basis, click here for suitable dates and times.

To help you identify the moons at any particular time, Sky and Telescope have a Java tool that will plot the moon positions. Click Here.

Saturn

Is a morning planet in Sagittarius, rising at 06.05h on the 1st. It will become better placed for viewing towards the end of the month when it will have moved further west from the Sun. By months end, it will be rising at 04.29h. It will be at magnitude +0.6 this month. The rings of Saturn are angled towards the Earth at +26° and the northern side of the rings are on view. The view through a telescope will be rewarding to see the rings presented towards Earth at such a great angle. The image may be degraded by the Earth's atmosphere due to the planets low altitude.
The brightest moon of Saturn, Titan can be found east of the planet on 6th ,7th ,8th ,22nd ,23rd and 24th .
It will be seen west of the planet on 14th ,15th and 16th. At magnitude +8.9, a telescope will be required to see Titan.

Meteors

There are no meteor showers this month. Any meteors seen will be sporadic background meteors.

Lunar
Occultations
(Stars Brighter than Magnitude +6.0)

Date Time            ZC#   SAO       Magnitude. P.A.  Type of event.    Notes

8th     04.12:24   2223   159370   +3.4         258    RD    gamma Libra. M*
23rd   17.42:43   692     94027     +0.9         241    RD    Aldebaran. M* Daylight Event


For very detailed list of occultations visible this month, click here. (Data from Occult Software)

Times are UT as seen from IoMAS Observatory. Start to observe these events about 20 minutes before the above times to allow for differences in your latitude and longitude. This will give you time to locate the star that is about to be occulted.

ZC = Zodiacal Catalogue. Type of Event DD = disappearance at dark limb, RD = Reappearance at dark limb. RB = Reappearance on bright limb. PA = Position Angle around limb of the Moon, where 0 degrees is north, 90 degrees is east, 180 degrees is south and 270 degrees is west.
D* = Double Star, M*=Multiple Star.

The above predictions were calculated from Occult software by David Herald. More information regarding this software may be found at the lunar-occultations.com web site.

Algol

This star drops from magnitude +2.1 to +3.4 in about 5 hours. Suitable events visible from the Isle of Man this month occur on 5th at 01.30h, 7th at 22.18h, 25th at 03.12h and 28th at 00.06h. Click here for a star chart for Algol.

Comet

There are no predicted bright comets this month.

ISS

The international Space Station crosses the Manx skies on a regular basis. For the latest information on when the ISS is due to pass across the sky over the next ten days, visit the link below.

ISS transit Information from Heavens Above.com


Bibliography for Manx Night Skies

The Handbook of the British Astronomical Association 2018. BAA. 2017
2018 Stargazing. Heather Couper & Nigel Henbest. Philip's 2017
2018 Guide to the Night Sky. Storm Dunlop & Wil Tirion. Collins 2017
Yearbook of Astronomy 2018. Brian Jones/Richard Pearson. Pen & Sword White Owl. 2017

Observer's Handbook Meteors. Neil Bone. Philip's 1993
Atlas of the Night Sky. Storm Dunlop. Collins. 2005
Constellations. Josef Klepešta and Antonin Rükl. Hamlyn. 1979
Brilliant Stars. Patrick Moore. The Book People Ltd. 1996
Complete Guide to Stargazing. Robin Scagell. Phillip's. 2006
Turn Left at Orion. Guy Consolmango and Dan M. Davis. Cambridge U.P. 2008
Norton's 2000.0 Edited Ian Ridpath. Longman Scientific & Technical. 1989


Planetary data derived from Guide 9 Software.
Picture graphics derived from Stellarium and Guide 9 Software.