Mon, 24 Oct 2016
Eighth magnitude nova in Sagittarius
The appearance of a nova -- an apparently new star, shining where none was seen before -- is a fairly rare event. One as bright as eighth magnitude is even rarer, appearing only every few years. One has just been spotted in Sagittarius, but as luck would have it, it's very low in the twilight sky and difficult to observe from the UK.
The nova was discovered on 20 October by an automated patrol carried out by keen Japanese amateur Koichi Itagaki, who runs numerous patrol telescopes and cameras. He noted it on an image taken using a 180 mm f/4 telephoto lens at magnitude 10.7. The object has subsequently brightened to magnitude 8.0 according to Australian amateur Andrew Pearce.
Here are finder charts to help you find the object. It is only visible for a short time after sunset, so to see it you will need large binoculars or a telescope, plus a low horizon and a good, clear sky. Alternatively, take a photograph of the area and identify the nova on that. The first image below shows the constellation of Sagittarius, which is to the south-west, with the horizon shown for 19.05 BST on 24 October from the southern UK. Farther north, the horizon will be higher.
The chart below shows the central area, with stars to ninth magnitude. The position of the nova is shown by a small circle.
Added by: Robin Scagell