Amateur Astronomers and the Pinwheel Supernova

by trg

Astronomers the world over have suddenly been roused into action with the news of the discovery of a supernova in the infant sages of its life. Dubbed the Pinwheel Supernova for having been found in the Pinwheel Galaxy (M101), also known technically as SN2011FE, it is now being called the supernova of a generation as no other supernova had been recorded from this close, and from such an early stage. As such a call for amateur astronomers was put out for everyone who can contribute any information and observations from the supernova, especially as we all got wind of the said supernova at a very early stage in its life. These data will be tremendously helpful in the study of how and why these explosions occur, as the origin of supernovae remains a scientific mystery to this day.

Located at 58”.6 west and 270”.7 south of the Pinwheel Galaxy’s core, the SN2011FE can be viewed by astronomers and amateur astronomers alike with the use of a telescope or a pair of astronomy binoculars. Any good telescope can be used for viewing the Pinwheel supernova, even a telescope for beginners would suffice. As long you know where to look – and this can be done simply by checking for an updated star map online – you yourself will be able to observe and study the supernova as well.

According to astronomers, a type Ia supernova such as the SN2011FE typically takes around 17-19 days to reach its brightest state. This means that the Pinwheel Supernova will probably be at optimal brightness sometime around the third week of September. Additionally, type Ia supernovae are actually the kind used to measure and study the expansion of the Universe, and the proximity and early stage of discovery of the SN2011FE would contribute greatly to these studies.

Despite the technological edge and state of the art machinery and equipment most astronomical institutions have, they would still greatly benefit from data and observation contributed by amateur astronomers looking to conduct studies and observations of their own regarding the Pinwheel Supernova or SN2011FE. So If you’re an amateur astronomer looking to observe the SN2011FE yourself, don’t forget to report any finds as well, as it would greatly benefit the astronomy and science communities. Not only will you be credited for your contributions, but in the long run, your own studies and observances would also greatly benefit humanity and our advancements as a people.

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