I’m very short on time just now, but wanted to take a few minutes to post a couple little maps to help telescope users find SN2011 fe, the new and bright supernova in M101 the Pinwheel Galaxy. Last night, it jumped another magnitude in brightness all the way up to magnitude 12.8 (my estimate). That’s great news, because now it’s within range of 6-inch and larger telescopes.
Face northwest at nightfall and find the Big Dipper. That’s easy enough. Then use the wide view chart to leap frog your way from Mizar, the star in the bend of the Dipper’s Handle, along the path shown to M101. The galaxy is visible in 40mm and 50mm binoculars as a smoky smudge from a dark sky site. It appears like a larger smudge with a brighter nucleus and faint spiral arms in a telescope.
Once you’ve found the galaxy, bring your magnification up to around 100x and locate the fuzzy nucleus in the center of the galaxy. There’s a star on the north side of the nucleus. Draw a line from that star through the nucleus and keep going until you hit the very next star in that line — that’s the supernova! Depending on the size of your telescope, you may also see the two stars that flank the supernova. Both are dimmer than the supernova.
Good luck and let me know if you have any questions. The map at left is drawn to show the view in a typical reflecting telescope with south at top. I can’t wait to have another look tonight, when it should be brighter yet. For more information on the star, please scroll down to yesterday’s blog.
*** Click HERE for an updated supernova map (9/3)