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Thursday, September 01, 2011

The supernova SN 2011fe in the Pinwheel Galaxy M101

This is the supernova, I didn't discover ;-) The SN 2011fe in Messier 101, also called Pinwheel galaxy.

Yesterday, it was possible to observe it even through my small 4 inches telescope from my light polluted suburban area in Stuttgart, Germany. In order to prove my observation, I attached my DSLR camera and I shot this photo, where the supernova is visible. This unguided, 30 second exposure reflects my visual experience through my 18mm TakLE eyepiece. This is the brightest supernova I've ever observed.

At the moment (Sep. 1st, 2011), the ongoing supernova SN2011fe is brighter than the entire Pinwheel galaxy! It has a brightness of 10,5mag, that means it became 4 mag brighter in only 5 days, since on Aug.25th, 2011 it was significantly fainter with 14.8mag and thus only visible with bigger instruments. Note, each magnitude is about 2,5times fainter than the previous one, e.g. 11mag is 2,5 times fainter than 10mag!
I've heard from other colleagues in my astronomy club the detonation of this distant star could be strong enough to destroy everything in a radius of 30 light years around it. However this star is in a distant galaxy 19000000 (nineteen million) light years away from the Earth! So, don't worry about it. If you have a small telescope go out in the garden and don't miss this unique chance to watch a real supernova with moderate equipment. Note during your observation, you are watching a star in another galaxy! Normally, all stars you can watch with an amateur scope are in our Milky Way. But not this one.
/px

PS: New observation five months later on January 25th, 2012. Read more at: http://xipteras.blogspot.com/2012/02/pinwheel-galaxy.html
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See also a wikipedia article about it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SN_2011fe
Learn how to find it at: http://www.astronomind.com
Watch it blinking in high resolution at: http://www.capella-observatory.com

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