Supernova in Messier 82 and How to See It

Supernova in Messier 82 and How to See It

m82 uvot after sn large-arrow


On January 21st the cigar galaxy otherwise known as messier 82 demonstrated a type 1a supernova explosion. This bright explosion of a dying star can be seen in telescopes and may be possible in good binoculars too. This is a rare astronomical event and well worth the time spent trying to observe it. It is thought that this supernova may have occurred when two white dwarf stars collided together. It is a bonus that is has occurred in a galaxy that is a favourite observing target for amateur astronomers. If you want to have a go at seeing this incredible and awe-inspiring event then have a look at this guide on how to find messier 82.

The Supernova can be seen in the above image which was taken by NASA’s Swift spacecraft. Below is  before and after images for comparison. These images are credited to NASA/Swift/P. Brown, TAMU.

Messier 82, the cigar galaxy before the supernova:

m82 uvot before sn large


And after the supernova:

m82 uvot after sn large-arrow 0.jpg


Messier 82 is found about 12 million light years away. In terms of intergalactic distances this a pretty close galaxy and is probably the closest in 150 years.


Good luck I hope the skies are clear for you and if you are able to image it then please send me your pictures. I know I’ll be trying to capture this moment. If I get a good image I’ll post it up in the coming days. 

Take a look at the Deep Space Objects Guide to find more like this.

Find more on: Observing the Night Sky

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