September 2, 2011

A Supernova and Exoplanets

If you're planning to take a peek at the M101 supernova tonight, then have a look at the chart I made to help you spot it speedily. You may need binoculars to spot other objects of interest such as a couple of exoplanetary systems in the same patch of sky, namely HAT-P-3 and HD 118203. Their magnitudes are approximately 11 and 8 respectively, so it would be quite a challenge to spot them.

At the handle of the Big Dipper, Alkaid, Mizar and M101 makes a semi-equilateral triangle (length of 7° each side). This makes it so much easier to spot them all by star-hopping.

Do not miss this supernova of our generation, named SN 2011fe, a Type Ia supernova at the Pinwheel Galaxy (Messier 101). In the next few days, it might reach at least magnitude 10 at it's peak brightness around September 12. At its brightest, it may be quite visible using good binoculars, or small telescopes on excellent conditions of the night sky.

Other Links:
The Big Dipper and Exoplanets

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