A new exploding star was recently discovered a few days ago. The sight the latest super nova star is a mere 21 million light years away which is equivalent to approximately 124 trillion miles. While this seems like quite a long way from home it is actually pretty close, relatively speaking. Located in galaxy M101, also known as the Pinwheel Galaxy, this type 1a supernova can be observed with just binoculars under dark skies.
Generally speaking, Supernovae are extremely luminous and cause a burst of radiation that often briefly outshines an entire galaxy, before fading from view over several weeks or months. During this short interval a supernova can radiate as much energy as the Sun is expected to emit over its entire life span. The expanding shell of ejected gas, called supernova remnant, may be visible telescopically for several years.
Amateur astronomers across the northern hemisphere are hoping for clear skies so they can observe the evolution of this process night after night. Some backyard astronomers with an interested in astrophotography have already captured images of the exploding star in its early stage. While this supernova has been visible via long exposure photography for days, the best time to view the supernova is right now. This particular supernova is best viewed from the northern hemisphere after the sunset, in the evening twilight. The M101 galaxy is very easy to find. Look for it in Ursa major, near the stars Alcor and Mizar, as shown in this sky map.
The explosion causes the star’s brightness to gradually increase over time, over numerous days in fact, only to eventually disappear from the sky. Observing the supernova in progress entails watching the star grow in size night after night until it eventually dims and leaves behind its remnant. Various types of telescopes can be used to view this phenomenon. Although no supernova has been observed in our own galaxy since 1604, supernovae remnants indicate on average the event occurs about once every 50 years in the Milky Way.
How can you Observe a SuperNova
This particular supernova can be seen with binoculars under dark skies. If you’re in the city, you’ll need to use a good telescope. To truely enjoy this supernova and other deep space objects, we recommend the Orion XT10 telescope. This is an intermediate level telescope which is available in 3 different options: Fully manual, push to, and go to. To learn more about this telescopes and the various options, please read our Orion XT10 telescope page.
If the XT10 is above your budget, the Orion XT8 telescope is one of the world’s most popular entry to intermediary level telescopes and a great option as well. IF that’s till too much, you could always consider the Orion XT6 telescope, but for the price difference we strongly encourage you to go for at least an XT8.