Right now, the general public is abuzz over a supernova, an exploding star, located in the Cigar Galaxy, also known as M82. Yes, while supernovae are nothing unusual, what is unique about this one is that it is bright enough to be noticed by amateur astronomers. The better news: the supernova is expected to get brighter in the coming days.
So, how to see it?
To see the supernova, a telescope, preferably a large one, is a must. Another factor that can help any would-be supernova observer: a dark sky, which means traveling out of the Cleveland metro area and out into the country to escape the light pollution. Next up: find the Cigar Galaxy (M82), which is where the supernova is located. Good news: the Cigar is located very near the Big Dipper. When it comes to zeroing in on the supernova, consult the above photo.
Unfortunately, the supernova is not like a cosmic Christmas light, as in very distinguishable from all the other stars. In fact, this is anything but the case. For experienced observers, though, the supernova will be obvious for the simple reason that there is now a star where there normally wouldn't be one. For beginners, consult this photo.
As for supernovae themselves, this one is considered a type 1A , which happens when a small, white dwarf star sucks matter off a neighboring star. When all the additional matter reaches a certain point, it triggers a runaway nuclear reaction, and the star explodes as a result.
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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