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


18th at 06.30h

First Quarter
26th at 09.20h

3rd at 15.47h

Last Quarter
10th at 07.10h

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Note: All times are Universal Time (UT) = GMT = IoM local time.
Winter Solstice occurs on the 21st at 16.29hrs.

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 2198 starts on the 3rd at 14h44m38s.


Is in the evening sky at the start of the month but being low down at sunset, it will be poorly placed for viewing. It goes through inferior conjunction (between the Earth and Sun) on the 13th when it passes 1.6° north of the Sun and enters the pre sunrise sky. Best chance of seeing the planet will be during the last 2 weeks of the month when it may be found low down in the dawn twilight skies.


Is a morning sky object but is getting closer to the Sun as the month progresses. It will be low down in the east before sunrise during the first week of the month. For the rest of the month, the planet will become lost into the bright dawn twilight sky.


Resides in the morning sky, rising at 03.43h on the first, shining at magnitude +1.7. On this date, the planet will be just over 3° to the upper left of the bright star Spica in Virgo. As the magnitude of Spica is +1.1, Mars will be the brighter of the two and will have the distinct red tinge. Mars is moving prograde (direct west to east) across the sky, heading towards Jupiter further east, when they will be in conjunction with other in January next year. Telescopically, the planets disc will be less than 5 arc seconds wide, so there will be little chance of seeing any surface details.


Low down in the east just before sunrise at the start of the month. The planet gets better placed for viewing as the month progresses, shining at magnitude -1.7 to -1.8. Jupiter rises at 05.28h on the 1st and by 04.03h by the end of the year. On the morning of the 14th, Jupiter will make a nice grouping with the planet Mars and the waning crescent Moon.

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.


 Will be in conjunction with the Sun on the 21st and will not be visible this month.


Geminid meteors are active from 8-17th with peak activity occurring 02h on the 14th. This shower has a high ZHR rate of 100+ meteors per hour and there are some bright events associated with this shower. The meteors are slow moving. Radiant is at RA 07h33m Dec. +32° The moon will be well out of the way this year, being a waning crescent in the dawn skies, so the display will not hampered by moonlight.

Ursid meteors can be seen from 17-25th with peak activity on 23rd. Maximum rate is low at 10 meteors per hour (ZHR). Radiant is at RA 14h28m Dec. +78° There have been outburst of activity with this shower, occurring in the years 1945,1982 and 1986, so it will be worth a watch in case of an outburst. Moonlight will be minimal this year around peak activity so any view of the shower will be good.

(Stars Brighter than Magnitude +6.0)

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

2nd      04.12:59      462    93320        +6.0           083° DD   D*
5th      03.15:09      947    95432        +5.2           230° RD   71 Ori M*
6th      22.08:31     1236    97645       +5.1           206° RD   zeta1 Cnc M*
23rd    18.44:25      3268   164974      +5.3           041° DD   42 Aqr
28th    19.17:56      364    110543      +4.3           072° DD   xi Cet
29th    19.07:18      491    93416        +6.0           052° DD   D*
29th    22.47:55      508    93469        +4.1           121° DD   5 Tau D*
30th    17.07:50      635    93868        +3.7           085° DD   gamma Tau D*
30th    21.17:00      667    93950        +5.0           063° DD   75 Tau D*
31st    01.03:41      692    94027        +0.1           117° DD   Aldebaran M*
31st    01.55:55      692    94027        +0.1           226° RD   Aldebaran M*
31st    21.22:32      832    94628        +4.3           077° DD   119 Tau
31st    21.59:58      836    94649        +5.7           099° 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* = 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 1st at 02.48h, 3rd at 23.42h, 6th at 20.30h, 21st at 04.24h, 24th at 01.24h and 26th at 22.12h. 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 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
2017 Yearbook of Astronomy. Richard Pearson & Brian Jones. CPI Group (UK) Limited. 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.