How to See a Supernova From Your Backyard This Weekend

Article written: 2 Sep , 2011
Updated: 14 Jan , 2016

The timing couldn’t be better. A new supernova, named PTF11kly, which was discovered on August. 24, 2011 is continuing to brighten and should be visible to backyard astronomers this weekend using just a pair of binoculars. It’s not quite naked-eye material but this is an exciting opportunity for amateurs (as well as the pros!) to view a supernova first-hand. Of course, if your backyard is full of light, the best option is to go to an area with darker skies, and you’ll be able to see it much better. Astronomers say PTF11kly will likely continue to shine for some time, and be at its brightest on about Sept. 9, 2011.

In this video Peter Nugent, an astrophysicist from Lawrence Berkeley National Labs explains just how to find this star that exploded about 21 million light years away.

Nancy Atkinson is currently Universe Today’s Contributing Editor. Previously she served as UT’s Senior Editor and lead writer, and has worked with Astronomy Cast and 365 Days of Astronomy. Nancy is the author of the new book “Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos.” She is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

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4 Responses

  1. Heading down to the OBSY tonight! Here’s hoping for clear skies!

  2. Anonymous says

    I really hope to find some dark skies to see this supernova. I’ve never seen one through a telescope (or binos) so this looks to be a choice opportunity. Sky Telescope, which has a selection of finder charts for the M 101 supernova, is reporting a visual magnitude of +10.8 and *rising* as of Sep 1st:

  3. Anonymous says

    I finally found and excuse to buy some new binoculars…

  4. Anonymous says

    I finally found and excuse to buy some new binoculars…

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