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


28th at 02.57h

First Quarter
5th at 11.32h

12th at 14.54h

Last Quarter
20th at 15.20h

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Note: All times quoted are Universal Time (UT)
British Summer Time starts at 02h UT on Sunday 26th March when the clocks go forward 1 hour. Remember to add 1 hour to any times quoted here to get local IoM time.

Spring Equinox on 20th at 10h30m.

There are no solar or lunar eclipses this month.


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


Carrington's Solar Rotation number 2188 starts on the 6th at 01h29m01s


Goes through superior conjunction (far side of the sun) on the 7
th when it will pass 1.7° south of the sun. It moves into the evening sky and will become visible after sunset during the last two weeks of the month. On the 15th, the planet will have a phase of 95.8% illuminated and will have an apparent disk diameter of 5.2 arc seconds. It will shine at magnitude -1.5 at this time. As it moves away from the sun and towards earth in its orbit, the phase will shrink to 46.9% illuminated and disk size will increase to 7.3 arc seconds by the 31st. The magnitude will have dropped to -0.4 This evening apparition will continue into April and this will be the best time to view the planet in the evening sky this year.


Is well seen in the evening skies soon after sunset and will be shining at magnitude -4.8 on the 1
st. It will be moving rapidly towards the sun and on the 25th , the planet passes through inferior conjunction (near side of the sun) when it will pass 8.3° north of the sun. Around this date, Venus will be seen in the evening after sunset and in the morning sky before sunrise!


Is in evening skies in Pisces shining at magnitude +1.3, travelling in a direct (west to east) direction during the month. It passes into Aries on the 8
th and will have faded slightly to +1.5 by months end. The planet is very distant at over 2 AU from earth and the apparent disk diameter will be less than 5 arc seconds.


Rises at 21.46h on the 1st shining at -2.3 magnitude in the constellation Virgo. It remains in Virgo throughout the month, travelling east to west (retrograde) and by the end of the month, it will have brightened slightly to magnitude -2.5.

 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.


 Is in the constellation Sagittarius during the month, shining at magnitude +0.5 to +0.4. It is in the dawn skies, rising at 03.36h on the 1st and rising 01.42h on the 31st. The rings are well displayed towards earth during the month at an angle of +26° with the north side of the rings in view.

The brightest moon of Saturn, Titan will be seen west of the planet on 1st ,2nd ,16th ,17th and 18th . It will be east of the planet on 8th ,9th ,10th , 8th ,24th ,25th ,and 26th. It will shine at magnitude +8.7


Virginid meteors are active during March and April with peak activity occurring in April. The shower is weak with only 5 per hour during maximum.

(Stars Brighter than Magnitude +6.0)

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

3rd    21.40:23      491         93416          +6.0           085° DD                 D*
4th    20.42:39      635         93868          +4.5           055° DD                 Gamma Tau D*
4th    23.38:24      661         93932          +4.5           099° DD                 71 Tau D*
5th    00.39:15      671         93957          +3.4           056° DD                 theta2 Tau D*
5th    00.46:23      669         93955          +3.8           028° DD                 theta1 Tau D*
5th    23.22:06      806         94526          +5.0           116° DD                 111 Tau D*
8th    19.00:20      1238       97653           +6.0           085° DD                 D*
14th  22.01:56      1924       139324          +5.8           313° RD                 66 Vir D*
15th  03.08:54      1941       139390          +4.7           255° RD                 77 Vir

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* = 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 18th at 01.24h and 20th at 22.12h. Click here for a star chart for Algol.


Comet P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova (45P) is in Leo and Leo Minor, fading from magnitude +6.9 to +10.5 during the month. The comet is moving away from earth and will become more difficult to observe as time progresses. It will be well place for viewing in evening skies.
Click here for an ephemeris.

Comet P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak (41P) is magnitude +9.8 at the start of the month and found in Leo just above the backwards question mark asterism in Leo. It moves into Leo Minor on the 5th and continues into Ursa Major and finally into Draco by the end of the month. The magnitude will have brightened to +6.7 by the 31st.
Click here for an ephemeris.

Comet C/205 V2 (Johnson) is found in Hercules this month, shining at magnitude +9.4 to +8.4
This comet does have a prominent tail as imaged in CCD cameras.
Click here for an ephemeris.


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
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.