New Bright Nova Erupts In Delphinus – Grab Your Binoculars!

The new nova in Delphinus is bright enough to see in binoculars. This reverse “black stars on white” map will help you locate it. Click to see more maps, wide and tighter. Created with Chris Marriott’s SkyMap

Earlier today Japanese amateur astronomer Koichi Itagaki photographed a new bright nova in the constellation Delphinus (del-FYE-nuss). At the time it was a little below the naked eye limit (6.8 magnitude) but it’s since risen to around 6. That means observers with dark skies can see our new guest without optical aid. And if you don’t have dark skies, don’t worry. You’ll spot the star in any pair of binoculars.

For the moment, the new object goes by the cumbersome temporary designation PNVJ20233073+2046041 (PNV stands for possible nova). Once fully confirmed, it will receive the friendlier Nova Delphini 2013 moniker.

Photo taken this evening in Italy of new apparent nova in Delphinus. The nova’s precise position is 20h 23m 30.68s  +20° 46′ 03.7″. Credit: Gianluca Masi

What’s exciting about this “new star” is that it’s just gearing up and could brighten even more. I recall another nova in Delphinus – Nova Delphini 1967 – when I was a wee teenager. That one shot up to magnitude 3.5 and was easily visible in the suburbs with the naked eye.

Using the chart above, I hope you’ll be able to find the nova the next clear night. It’s located about 5 degrees (3 fingers held together at arm’s length against the sky) above the little diamond that forms the top of Delphinus the Dolphin. The numbers on the chart are star brightnesses or magnitudes with the decimal omitted (80 = 8.0 magnitude). The brighter the star the smaller the number. You can use the labeled stars to follow changes in the nova’s brightness over the coming nights.

Novas are not actually new stars despite their name. They occur in binary or double stars containing a superdense white dwarf star orbiting with a normal sun-like star. The dwarf steals matter from its companion, heats and compresses it to high temperature and a thermonuclear explosion occurs. Unlike supernovae, a nova eruption typically doesn’t tear the star apart.

To read more about the new object and find additional maps, please check my post on Universe Today.


8 Responses

  1. Edward M. Boll

    This is exciting for us but not so for the general public. My concern about Comet ISON is that it may be a great comet. It may still go down as one of the brightest of all time. But I doubt that the general public will take much notice. After all, it may be no brighter than magnitude 3 when it comes in the twilight again. The only chance that we will get people excited about it is if it puts on a long bright tail during the first days of December. Will it survive intact? I have a feeling that it will.

  2. Michael Sangster


    I saw the nova tonight! I used binoculars to find it, then tried naked eye. I can barely see it (naked eye), but it was there (would be easier without the Moon). Looks brighter then the 5.7 mag star nearby (mag 5?).

  3. Richard Keen

    Bob, just gave it a magnitude 4.4 at 0750 UT, up a full magnitude since this time yesterday. If that keeps up….

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