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Weekly Cosmos Report - Baja Night Sky #78

Date: 23/03/2015

Week of March 22, 2015:

Nova in the sky

There is a Nova in the morning sky. Supernovae are giant stars that run out of core fuel, collapse, and then explode in a cataclysmic nuclear reaction. They are rare in any galaxy. The last one in the Milky Way was in 1604.
A Nova on the other hand happens more often. A white dwarf, an earth-size dead star that circles a companion star, becomes a Nova when it steals enough hydrogen from its neighbour for its surface to explode in a bright nuclear reaction. The white dwarf itself usually does not explode and sometimes gives repeat performances.
If you get up around 5am, you can spot the Nova with the naked eye. Later than that and you will need binoculars. The white dwarf was previously too dim to be seen without a very large telescope. This link shows where to look to see the Nova. The sky map is for the central USA. Since we are 20 degrees or so further south, Sagittarius and Scorpio will be about 20 degrees higher in the southern sky than what is shown on the map. Look for J-shaped Scorpio. Then look for the teakettle-shaped Sagittarius just to its left. The Nova may fade soon so go out and look for it the next clear morning.

Tom at BajaNightSky@gmail.com

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