I Saw The Supernova Last Night

First I’d like to say it’s good to back. I went to the Dr. about a week and a half back with a temp of 102. Doc says, “you have an ear infection, but with your symptoms let’s do a flu screen.” I also had H1N1. Let me tell you I would not wish that on anyone, not even my redneck neighbors. Chills that have you shivering one minute, hot flashes that have you sweating the next, body aches from hell, headaches from coughing like there is no tomorrow, and a general feeling like a giant bird flew overhead and took an enormous shit on you. That was as sick as I have been in a long time, I still haven’t quite shaken a nagging cough, but I also still have a few antibiotics to take. Anyway, if you can get the flu shot, I highly recommend it. I have a mild egg allergy that makes my Dr. recommend me not getting a flu shot. I think I’d rather risk the side effects of having the shot vs. having the flu next time…

Now, in case you haven’t heard, a new supernova blew up in a galaxy several days back.  This galaxy I have observed many times, M82. M82 is  sometimes called the “Cigar” galaxy due to its cigar like shape (obviously) It is located in the constellation Ursa Major which happens to be positioned for good viewing right now which is great. Anyway we had a break in the clouds last night and I was determined to get a look and see if I could spot this supernova, plus it was supposed to cloud up fairly quick and start with some flurries, so I was feeling a tad desperate. Using a 12.5″ scope and a low power eyepiece I scanned the area where I know M82 to be and found it fairly quickly. Even in the low power view I could see the supernova. I doubled the power with a 17mm eyepiece and it was very obvious. I made the entire family brave the cold and come out to see this, it isn’t very often you get to see a supernova, in another galaxy, that it so easy to see. It doesn’t actually look like much, it appears as a fairly bright star about one half to two thirds of the way out from the galactic core. What makes it spectacular is what it is you are seeing. A star that blew up sometime around 12 million years ago, just became visible to us from our vanatge point in the universe. That is the cool part.

Of course with the Great Orion Nebula M42 overhead, I had to have a look at it, and Jupiter was begging for a quick look. That was all I could handle and wrapped that observing session up right quick. It was pretty cold, with a wind blowing, and man we have had a LOT of that this winter.

For more on the supernova, with explanations and maps and pictures: http://www.universetoday.com/108386/bright-new-supernova-blows-up-in-nearby-m82-the-cigar-galaxy/