In Manx skies... July 2017 ~ compiled by Dave Storey


23rd at 09.46h

First Quarter
1st at 00.51h
th at 15.23h

9th at 04.07h

Last Quarter
16th at 16.16h

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Note: All times are Universal Time (UT)
British Summer Time is now in force. Remember to add 1 hour to any times quoted here to get local IoM time.

There are no Lunar or Solar eclipses this month.

Solar Aphelion occurs on the 3rd at 20.11h (152,092,504km/94,505,901miles)


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


Carrington's Solar Rotation number 2193 starts on the 20th at 06h06m31s.


Is an evening object, reaching greatest eastern elongation on the 30th when it will be 27° to the left of the Sun. As seen from the Isle of Man, the planet will be difficult to see after sunset due to its very low altitude and bright sky.


Is in Taurus for most of the month, entering Orion on the 29th. The planet is found before sunrise in the east shining at a brilliant -4.2 to -4.0. At dawn of the 13th, look towards the eastern horizon and find Venus above the bright star Aldebaran in Taurus. Aldebaran shines fainter at magnitude +1.0 and should prove a nice naked eye and binocular sight.

Another interesting view occurs on the morning of the 20th when the Moon joins Venus and Aldebaran. The thin crescent moon will be 15% illuminated and should display the lovely earth-shine on the dark side of the moon. Well worth a look in binoculars.


Is on the far side of the Sun and will be in conjunction with the Sun on the 27th, when it passes 1.1° north of the Sun. Consequently, it will be unobservable this month.


Will be found in Virgo this month, shining at magnitude -2.1 on the 1st and fading slightly to magnitude -1.9 by months end. The waxing crescent moon (33% illuminated) will be seen a couple of degrees upper right of Jupiter on the evening of the 28th.

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.

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.


Can be found in the evening sky, low down in the south in Ophiuchus during the month. It shines at magnitude +0.1 to +0.2. The near full moon (96% illuminated) will be 3.2° to the upper right of Saturn on the night of 6th . It is best viewed around local midnight when it will be highest in the sky. Being at celestial latitude of 22° south, it will be low down and as seen through a telescope, the view will be degraded some what by atmospheric turbulence. Still worth a look through a telescope with the rings well presented to the Earth at an angle of 26°. The brightest moon of Saturn, Titan (magnitude +8.5) will be seen west of the planet on 5th ,6th ,7th ,8th ,21st ,22nd ,23rd and 24th . It will be east of the planet on 13th ,14th ,15th 29th ,30th and 31st .


Is at opposition on the 10th this month in Sagittarius at a very dim +14.2. On this date, the dwarf planet will be at a distance of 32.3 astronomical units (4,839 million km / 3,007 million miles). If you haven't seen Pluto yet, you will need a large diameter telescope (250mm aperture or greater) to have a chance of seeing this object. On opposition night, Pluto is found close to a magnitude +8.2 star (SAO 187913) and around this star are some fainter stars that may be used as a guide to tracking down Pluto. It will be a challenge to see however as the dwarf planet is low down as seen from Manx shores, around about 14° altitude. Using the chart left, try observing the star field around the time of opposition and make a sketch of the stars. Then, a day or so after, repeat the observation and find the “star” that has moved and that's Pluto!

Click here for a printable friendly chart.


alpha-Cygnids are active during July and August with two peaks; one in July and the other in August. The peak in July occurs on the 21st July when 5 meteors per hour (ZHR) will be seen. Radiant is at RA. 21.00h Dec. +48°

Capricornids are active during July and August with three peaks this month. The dates being 9th, 16th and 26th . Like the aplha-Cygnids, the showers are weak with only 5 meteors per hour (ZHR). These meteors can display yellow-blue colours. Radiant is at RA. 20.44h Dec. -15°

delta-Aquarids are active from 15th July to 20th August. Two peaks occur, one on July 29th and another in August. The peak this month will be 20 meteors per hour (ZHR) and situated at radiant RA. 22.36h Dec. -17°. These meteors are usually faint.

Alpha-Capricornids are active from July 15th to 20th August. Peak activity occurring on the nights 2nd - 3rd August. Radiant is at RA. 20.36h Dec. -10°

iota-Aquarids can be seen during July and August with a peak due in August. This is another weak shower with only 8 meteors per hour (ZHR) at peak. Radiant is at RA. 22.10h Dec. -15°

The Perseids become active during this month and can be seen from the 23rd. Peak activity occurring in August. This shower produces some bright, fast meteors.

(Stars Brighter than Magnitude +6.0)

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

1st    23.59:32      1921      139308         +5.9         067° DD             65 Virginis
8th    01.41:03      2639      186544         +6.0         132° RD             16 Sagittarii D*
14th  00.46:58      3421      166612         +4.9         270° RD             chi Aquarii D*

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

Noctilucent clouds

Noctilucent clouds have been seen from Europe since June. Look due north low down to the horizon to see these night time glowing clouds. These clouds are at very high altitudes, around 80 km high and it is this high altitude that makes them glow with sunlight illuminating them from below the northern horizon. On the Spaceweather.comweb site, there is a graphic showing showing latest observations from AIM satellite, sent up to investigate these mysterious clouds.


This star drops from magnitude +2.1 to +3.4 in about 5 hours. There are no suitable events visible this month. Click here for a star chart for Algol.


Comet C/2015 V2 Johnson in brighter than magnitude 10 this month, being magnitude +7.1 at the start of the month and fading to +8.1 by months end. It is low down in Virgo and will get lower as it travels the night sky in a southerly direction. Click here for an ephemeris.

On the evening of the 1st, the comet passes extremely close to the 4th magnitude star kappa Virginis. This may help in locating the comet!


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 2017. BAA. 2016
Stargazing 2017. Heather Couper & Nigel Henbest. Philip's 2016
2017 Guide to the Night Sky. Storm Dunlop & Wil Tirion. Collins 2016
2017: An Astronomical Year (U.K. Edition) Richard J. Bartlett. October 2016
2017 Yearbook of Astronomy. Richard Pearson & Brian Jones. CPI Group (UK) Limited. 2017
Yearbook 2017. Sky at Night. BBC. Immediate Media Company, Bristol. 2016
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.