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Monday, February 13

Chance to Spot a Famous Nova !

Novae are stars which from time to time suddenly flare up to become hundreds of times brighter than normal. Some apparently do this only once, others regularly flare at intervals of days to years. Recurrent Nova RS Ophiuchi is in between, having produced outbursts in 1898, 1933, 1958, 1967, and 1985. Yesterday it flared up again, brightening by several hundred times to a potentially unaided eye magnitude of 4.5. You can read more about this famous star on the American association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) website.


If you want to have a go at observing it, you are going to have to get up early I am afraid. You will also need a good SE horizon as the constellation Ophiuchus is low in the SE in the pre dawn sky from here. You can see a more detailed finder chart here. (Note this chart is upside down with south at the top to correspond with the view in an astronomical telescope) If you are lucky you might spot it with the unaided eye, but it should be obvious in binoculars for the next couple of weeks, fading by perhaps a magnitude per week. You are looking for an extremely red star, caused by glowing Hydrogen (H alpha)

Good Hunting!

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