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



Moon

New
17th at 13.13h

First Quarter
24th at 15.36h

Full
2nd at 00.52h
31
st at 12.38h

Last Quarter
9th at 11.21h






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Note: All times quoted are Universal Time (UT)
British Summer Time starts at 02h UT on Sunday 25th 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 16h16m.

There are no solar or lunar eclipses this month.

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 2202 starts on the 22nd at 22h37m00s

Mercury

Is found low in the western sky after sunset this month and will be at it best for viewing in the evening sky this year. It shines at magnitude -1.3 at the start of the month and sets at 18.56h. Greatest eastern elongation occurs on the 15th when the planet will be 18° to the left of the Sun. On this date, the planet will shine at magnitude -0.4 and as seen through a telescope, the apparent disc diameter will be 7.4 arc seconds and display a phase of 43.7%. By the end of the month, the planet will have drawn too close to the Sun to be seen clearly. Mercury is in conjunction with the planet Venus on the 4th when Venus will be seen about 1° south of Mercury. Another conjunction occurs on the 19th when the planets will be found 3.8° apart.

Venus



As mentioned above, Venus will be found in the post sunset sky, in the west with planet Mercury. It will be bright at magnitude -3.9 all month. Through a telescope, the planet will display a disc size of 10 arc seconds at the start of the month and increasing to 10.5 arc seconds by the end of the month. The phase will be large from 97.9% illuminated on the 1
st, shrinking to 94.5% by months end. Venus has a close conjunction with Uranus on the 28th and this will be a challenge to see. You will need a good pair of binoculars to spot Uranus about ¼° north Venus and with Uranus being magnitude +5.9, it will be difficult to see in the bright twilight sky. (Closest conjunction occurs at 00.50h on the 29th, separation 4.1 arc minutes)

Mars

Is in the dawn skies and will be found in the constellation Ophiuchus at start of the month, shining at magnitude +0.8. It is moving prograde (west to east) in relation to the background stars and enters Sagittarius on the 11th. By the end of the month, it will have brightened to magnitude +0.3. As seen through a telescope, the apparent disc diameter is small, ranging from 6.7 to 8.3 arc seconds. Seeing any surface markings will be a challenge. The disc will also show a pronounced non circular phase of 88.2 to 88.0% illuminated. The 43% illuminated Moon will be seen about 3.5° to the upper left of Mars when they rise on the morning of the 10th .

Jupiter

Rises 00.43h hrs on the 1st , shining at magnitude -2.2. It starts the month moving west to east (prograde) in Libra and on the 9th, it reaches a stationary point and then changes direction to east to west (retrograde motion).

 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 sky object, shining at magnitude +0.5 to +0.6 during the month. It will be low down in the south-east in Sagittarius. The crescent Moon will rise about 2° to the left of Saturn on the morning of the 11th . The rings of Saturn are well presented towards the Earth at an angle of +26°, so should prove a wonderful telescopic sight.

The brightest moon of Saturn, Titan will be seen west of the planet on 2nd ,3rd ,4th ,18th ,19th and 20th . It will be east of Saturn on the 10th ,11th,12th, 26th ,27th and 28th . Titan shines at a dim +8.8 magnitude so a telescope will be required to see this moon.

Meteors

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.

Lunar
Occultations
(Stars Brighter than Magnitude +6.0)

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

1st      06.05:27      1487         98967          +1.4           103° DD       Regulus M* Moon Low
5th      03.00:23      1950         139428        +5.7           317° RD       80 Vir
11th    04.34:35      2708         187086        +5.9           242° RD       M*
22nd    20.10:53      667          93950          +5.0           103° DD       75 Tau D*
22nd    23.34:57      692          94027          +0.9           123° DD       Aldebaran M* Moon Low
23rd    22.36:52      832          94628           +4.3           106° DD       119 Tau
23rd    23.13:35      836          94649           +5.7           121° DD       120 Tau


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 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 2nd at 20.54h, 20th at 01.48h and 22nd at 22.36h. 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.