Scientists are predicting that a star, known as SBW2007, could go supernova at any time. Why the bold prediction? According to experts, SBW2007 looks identical to SN 1987A, which went supernova that year. The thought: if SBW2007 looks the same as SN 1987A did just before it blew, SBW2007 could explode at any time, too.
So, should we keep our eyes on the sky or, for that matter, panic? Short answer: yes and no, respectively.
Before getting too excited, one must consider this: there is no sure-fire way to predict exactly when a star is going to explode. That said, all we can do is keep an eye on it and, if we get lucky, we just might get treated to the first supernova within the Milky Way since Kepler's Supernova in 1604. On the other hand, SBW2007 might not do anything for thousands of years. Still, the possibilities are exciting.
Now for panic.
Contrary to what may be professed on the Internet, there is no reason to panic at the event of a supernova. Why? It's too far away. At 20,000 light years, SBW2007 is far outside the deadly range of a gamma ray burst (6,000 light years, give or take) let alone a standard supernova (100 light years). .
See also: 5 ways the cosmos could kill us
In practical terms, if SBW2007 were to go supernova, the sight could be spectacular. In 1572, Tycho's Supernova was reported, at peak, as being as bright as Venus. The already mentioned Kepler Supernova? It peaked at about magnitude -2.5, or slightly brighter than Jupiter.
As always, would-be sky watchers in the Cleveland area should be sure to keep an eye on the Cleveland weather forecast and, for hour-by-hour cloud predictions, the Cleveland Clear Sky Clock. Live somewhere else? Find a clock and see if it will be clear near you.
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