NGC 5530. The star on the center of the galaxy is a foreground star; the indicated star is the far-distant supernova. Image courtesy of Gerry Aarts of the Western Sydney Amateur Astronomical Group
During the evening of Thursday the 13th of September Bob Evans of Hazelbrook in the Blue Mountains discovered his 41st supernova. The object, now designated SN 2007it, is in the galaxy NGC 5530 in the constellation of Lupus, the wolf. These 41 are visual discoveries; that is, through the eyepiece of a telescope. The count is more, if photographic discoveries are included.
Bob Evans is a Trustee of Linden Observatory and the founder of the Observatory’s own Beginners Club. Bob is one of many observers on the Saturday viewing nights at Linden, and on this night he had SN 2007it to show to all. The night was only two days after discovery, and the brightness of the exploding star had dropped only a little from around 13th magnitude to 14th, and all who looked were able to see it.
Described as a ‘near-by’ spiral galaxy, still tens of millions of light years away, NGC 5530 appeared in the eyepiece a very faint fuzzy patch with two dim stars on it; one a foreground star of the Milky Way, and the other the supernova shining from a-far. The photograph above was taken during the same night by Gerry Aarts of the Western Sydney Amateur Astronomical Group (WSAAG), and that club also meets at the Observatory.
SN2007it is classified a Type II supernova. That is, a very massive star exploding at the end of its short life. These explosions seed the cosmos with monumental amounts of oxygen and other elements. The oxygen atoms in the air you’re breathing now and the gold in any jewelry you’re wearing could very well have come through such an explosion.
Between the two clubs, WSAAG and the Linden Observatory Beginners Club, many new-comers to the night sky are introduced to it wonders. Other objects viewed and discussed on this particular Saturday were both ‘classical’ and ‘dwarf’ novas, as well the ‘supernova’ (if you don’t know the difference, post a question in the comments), the Ring Nebula, the Helix Nebula, and much more.
Observatory visits: There are two open Saturday nights a month at Linden Observatory. WSAAG can contacted here, and for the Linden Observatory Beginners Club, or for any other enquiry, please call Alan on 0414 230 324.