A Nova for the rest of us

Have you seen the nova that erupted in the galaxy M74?
Neither have I.
At magnitude +12.6, it’s on the outer range of my scope’s ability, especially with the suburban light pollution.
But we have reports of a Nova for the rest of us: Nova Delphinus 2013 is magnitude + 4.5 almost straight overhead when the sky gets dark. There is even an ARROW pointing toward it!

In our light-polluted skies, binoculars may be the easiest way to see Nova Del (as its friends call it). The problem isn’t seeing it – it’s bright enough to see without binoculars – it’s how to know which faint star in the Milky Way’s band of stars is the Nova? It doesn’t come in the sky with a label!

Use these star charts and a really good one at astrobob.areavoices.com (not related to me) to find your way. Use other bright stars in the area – the Northern Cross and Vega – to find your way to Sagitta (Latin for ‘arrow’!). Delphinus (The Dolphin) is nearby – a faint constellation, but an easy-to-recognize shape. Use them to narrow the search. Once you find Sagitta, follow the point of the arrow another arrow-length in the direction it is pointing. It’s best to draw the brightest stars you can see in the area Sagitta is pointing toward and compare them with the map.

Happy hunting!



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