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/


New Supernova



Hubble has a new supernova discovery to its credit. This one is dubbed SN 2013ek. Another supernova was discovered in this same galaxy last year, and very close to the same spot as this new one. Which is raising a few eyebrows. Indeed they believe these two events could be linked.

The nova is the bright starlike object just above and to the right of the bright galactic nucleus. The other objects in that galaxy that look similar are likely knots of young stars, or large globular clusters, that are fairly commonly found in galaxies, even our own. My only regret is this object is so far south from my location I won’t be able to turn a telescope in its direction to see if I can spot it. 

This is indeed the age of discovery. I am happy to be alive in this era. I have personally seen our species move from earth bound species, with rotary phones and black and white television to putting man on the moon, in space, and having a host of space bound observatories, Mars rovers, planetary probes, cell phones, high speed internet, etc etc. It is in some strange way, a sense of pride seeing and experiencing the advances we have made along the way. Besides family, I think the biggest thing I will miss when I no longer exist, will be the ever advancing rate of our technology, and not knowing where it may lead… 






The Bad Astronomy blog ran by Phil Plait, is one of my regular stops every morning. This morning I was blown away by this photo of a supernova remnant. So much so, I decided to post it here. This supernova’s name, SNR 0519-69.0, seemingly docile enough of a description, belies it’s violent, recent past. This is one huge explosion and we are fortunate it is in one of the Milky Way’s dwarf galaxy companions, the Large Magellanic Cloud, and not right next door. Well as galaxies go it is right next door,  but far enough away not to give us any more than a beautiful panorama of a massive explosion.

Much more, and quite a bit better explanation, with a lot of the science to go with it…here: 


I have been an amateur astronomer for a long time now, and two of the objects I like to hunt down and observe often are the Veil Nebula and M1, (Messier object # 1), both supernova remnants. This SNR 0519-69.0 is well out of reach of my modest land based telescopes. Heck, from my location I cant even see the Large Magellanic Cloud…We are so fortunate to have Hubble up there, still after all these years, bringing us fantastic pictures of the cosmos, and guys like Phil Plait to to give excellent accounts of the science behind them.