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


17th at 02.18h

First Quarter
24th at 22.22h

2nd at 02.25h

st at 13.28h

Last Quarter
8th at 22.26h

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Note: All times are Universal Time (UT) = GMT = IoM local time.
Earth at perihelion (nearest to the sun) on 3
rd at 03.17h. (147,100,176km/91,403,812miles)

There is a total lunar eclipse on 31st but non of the eclipse is visible from the Isle of Man. Click here for details.

There are no solar eclipses this month.


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


Carrington's Solar Rotation number 2200 starts on the 27th at 06h42m00s


Is a morning object and will be at greatest western elongation on the 1st ; 22.5° to the right of the Sun. It rises at 06.45h on the 1st, shining at magnitude -0.3, low in the east. Following this date, the planet draws nearer the Sun and will become more difficult to see in the brightening twilight skies. Mercury will be in a close conjunction with Saturn on the morning of the 13th, when they will be less than 1° apart. This will be difficult to see as the planets will be in brightening dawn skies.


Goes through superior conjunction (far side of the Sun) on the 9th, when it passes just south of the Sun. It will therefore not be visible this month.


Is found in dawn skies, rising at 03.45h on the 1st, shining at magnitude +1.5. By the end of the month, the planet will rise at 03.35h. The difference between rise of Mars on the 1st and 31st is small due to the fact that the planet is moving in direct motion (west to east).

Mars will be in conjunction with Jupiter on the morning of the 7th, when it will be found only 13 arc minutes south of Jupiter. Of the two, Jupiter will be much brighter, magnitude -1.8 compared to Mars' magnitude of +1.4.

Through a telescope, Mars and Jupiter should be visible in the same field as seen in a low power eyepiece. The disc of Mars will be small at only 4.9 arc seconds wide. But if conditions are good, crank up the magnification and see if you can see a dark marking upon the surface of Mars. The dark feature Syrtis Major in on the central meridian of Mars at this time.

This is the most prominent dark feature on Mars and was used in early telescopic days to determine the rotation of the planet which is just over 24 hours. (24h 37m).

The crescent Moon (27% illuminated phase) will pass about 3.5° north of Mars and Jupiter on the 11th and should prove a nice naked eye and binocular view.


Ceres will be found moving from Leo into Cancer this month and comes to opposition on the 31st. On this night, Ceres will be visible all night long, being due south and highest in the sky at 00.51h. Its magnitude will be +6.9 so at least a good pair of binoculars will be needed to find this dwarf planet.

Use the 2 charts below to located Ceres. The red rectangle in the upper wide field is reproduced below showing a narrow field of view.


Is in the dawn skies shining at magnitude -1.8 at the start of the month and brightening to -2.0 by months end. The Planet will have a close conjunction with Mars on the 7th as detailed above. On the morning of the 7th, use a telescope and see the Galilean Moons form a double pairing either side of the planet.

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 date and times as seen from the Isle of Man.

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.


Will be a poor object for viewing in the dawn skies, low down in the south-east before sunrise. It resides in the constellation of Sagittarius all month, shining at magnitude +0.5.


There is only one meteor shower this month, namely the Quadrantids. Activity occurs from 1st to 6th with peak activity on the 3rd at 21hrs. Rates are unpredictable but can be a high as 80 per hour? The moon is a waxing gibbous phase on the night of peak activity, so the display will be spoiled by bright moon-light. Shower radiant is at R.A. 15h20m Dec. 50°

(Stars Brighter than Magnitude +6.0)

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

4th       20.45:53      1434    98733           5.4          333°  RD                psi Leo D* Moon Low
25th     17.32:47      444      93232           5.9          069°  DD                D*
25th     23.22:17      462      93320           6.0          039°  DD                D*
26th     23.21:10      608      93775           6.0          093°  DD                D*
27th     18.09:20      741      94227           5.5          130°  DD                D*
29th     01.18:04      947      95432           5.2          113°  DD                71 Ori M*

For a very detailed list of all occultations, click here.

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 web site.


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 13th at 03.18h, 15th at 23.48h and 18th at 20.36h. Click here for a star chart for Algol.


There are no predicted bright comets this month.


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

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.