Nova in Delphinus

Posted August 17, 2013 by User 1

A new star has appeared in the little-known constellation of Delphinus, the dolphin -- except it's not really a new star per-se. It's actually a white dwarf -- the age-old remnant of a long-deceased star that had used up all its fuel temporarily bursting back into life with bang as material raining down from its alive-and-well companion destabilizes its structure causing an explosion known as a nova.

The nova was discovered on August 14, 2013 by Koichi Itagaki from Japan when it was at a magnitude of 6.4 -- barely visible without optical aid from dark skies. The nova brightened rapidly in the following two days, reaching a peak magnitude of approximately 4.4 mid-day on August 16, 2013 UTC and has since begun to fade again. The American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) has a publicly viewable light curve showing the nova's evolution.

The nova is presently, at the time of this writing, faintly visible without optical aid from suburban and rural sites with clear conditions and will likely remain so for the next day or so. To locate the nova, look up and find the Summer Triangle consisting of the three bright stars: Vega, Deneb and Altair. Within the triangle (near Altair, the most distant vertex), there is a set of four stars forming the shape of an arrow. This arrow, actually the constellation Sagitta, points almost directly at the nova. The actual coordinates of the nova are (20 23 30.73, +20 46 04.1).

Bright moonlight may interfere with observing of the nova which will make naked eye observation difficult if not impossible for the remainder of the event, so a binocular may be needed to view the nova.


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