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


16th at 01.58h

First Quarter
22nd at 21.47h

30th at 00.59h

Last Quarter
8th at 07.19h

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Note: All times quoted 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 activity is low with solar cycle 24 now in force.


Carrington's Solar Rotation number 2203 starts on the 19th at 05h15m34s.


Goes through inferior conjunction (between the Earth and Sun) on the 1st when it passes 2.7° north of the Sun. After this date, the planet will become a morning object for the rest of the month and best viewed from the southern hemisphere. It reaches greatest western elongation on the 29th when it will be 27° to the right of the Sun. It will be poorly placed for viewing from Manx shores.


Will be found in the west after sunset, shining at a very bright -3.9. As seen through a telescope, the disc will have a large phase of 94.2% illuminated and apparent diameter of 10.6 arc seconds. By the end of the month, the planet will sport a phase of 88.7% and the apparent disc size will have increased to 11.5 arc seconds. After sunset on the evening of the 17th, try finding the young crescent Moon ( 4° illuminated) about 6° lower left of Venus.


Is rising 02.36h on the 1
st , shining at magnitude +0.3. It will be seen close to Saturn with the two planets in conjunction on the 2nd. On this date, the planet Saturn will be just over 1° north of Mars. Saturn will be shining at magnitude +0.5 and slightly fainter than Mars. Of course, Mars will show it reddish tinged colouration. After the conjunction, Mars will move away towards the east while Saturn continues westerly. The view through a telescope will show a tiny disc size of 8.4 to 11.0 arc seconds with a distinct phase of around 88%. The planet will be low down in Manx skies, so the image as seen though a telescope will be very degraded due to poor seeing.


Is found low down in the south in Libra during the month, shining at magnitude -2.4 to -2.5
It rises 22.32h on the 1
st and by 20.21h by the 30th .

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 a morning sky object and will be found close to Mars at the start of the month. On the morning of the 7th, the waning gibbous Moon will be found about 4° upper right of Saturn. Lower left of Saturn (2.7°) will be planet Mars. The rings of Saturn are well presented towards Earth at an angle of 25° and should prove a grand sight through a telescope.

The brightest moon of Saturn, Titan (magnitude +8.7) will be seen west of the planet on 3rd, 4th ,5th , 19th ,20th and 21st . It will be west on the 11th ,12th ,13th ,27th ,28th and 29th .


Virginid meteors are active during the month with maximum activity during 11th and 12th. The rate is low at on 5 meteors per hour (ZHR). The meteors move in long, slow paths across the sky. Radiants at RA14h04m Dec. -09° and RA13h36m Dec. -11°

Lyrids are active from 18
th to 25th with a maximum on the 22nd. Rates are 10 meteors per hour (ZHR). Fine displays were seen in 1803, 1922 and 1982 so it will be worth while observing this year in case of enhanced activity. Radiant at RA18h08m Dec.+33°
The meteors from the shower originate from comet Thatcher that was discovered in 1861 by A. E. Thatcher.

alpha-Scorpiids are active from 20th and into May with two peaks in activity. One on the 28th April and the other on the 12th May. Rates are low at only 5 meteors per hour (ZHR). Radiant at RA16h31m Dec. -24°

eta-Aquarids are active from the 24th with a maximum due in May. Radiant at RA22h30m Dec. -01°

(Stars Brighter than Magnitude +6.0)

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

4th    02.06:18      2247      159466         +5.4           256° RD             eta Libra
8th    03.21:05      2797      187756         +2.9           273° RD             pi Sagittarius M*

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 web site.


This star drops from magnitude +2.1 to +3.4 in about 5 hours. There are no suitable dates for observing this month. 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.