Searching for Supernovae.

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PaulB
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Searching for Supernovae.

Post by PaulB »

I'd like to ask members of the SPA, for some advice please.

Myself together with another local astronomer, want to begin searching for Supernovae. And we'd like some advice on how to get started.

Before I continue, I will give you a break down of our equipment.

I use a 200mm F4 Newtonian with a focal length of 800mm, and a Atik 16ic camera.

And my colleague uses a 200mm telescope, a Celestron SCT with a focal length of 2032mm and a SXV-H18 camera.

The questions which I would like answers to, are in know particular order.

1. How many galaxies do people search. Is fifty a good number to begin with?

2. Is it a good idea to build up a set of reference image's first. Or can these be sourced on the internet?

3. How do you check you're image. And what should you do if you think you have a suspect.

4. What exposure time's are we looking at during a patrol. 30s/60s?

Thank you.
Paul Anthony Brierley
Observation Co-ordinator for.
Macclesfield Astronomical Society
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brian livesey
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Post by brian livesey »

An observer to ask would probably be Martin Mobberly, who has discovered several supernovae: http://martinmobberley.co.uk.
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PaulB
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Post by PaulB »

Thank you Brian.

I am sorry but your link doesn't work.
Paul Anthony Brierley
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LeoLion
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Post by LeoLion »

Brian's flagging of Martin Mobberley reminded me that MM had a book out from Springer in 2007 or 2008 . The title was "Supernovae and how to observe them " that covered the subject well . Most ( and probably all ) UK succesful amateur searchers would also be subscribers to " The Astronomer" magazine , edited by Guy Hurst .
Try this link too http://martinmobberley.co.uk/ . (It worked just now !!)
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Post by joe »

Brian had BBCode turned off. The link now works.
200mm Newtonian, OMC140, ETX90, 15x70 Binoculars.
David Frydman
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Post by David Frydman »

The Astronomer magazine has results from some of the world's most prolific Supernova finders. I think that may be the place to seek information or at least look at the equipment and methods they use.

Regards, David.
PaulB
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Post by PaulB »

joe wrote:Brian had BBCode turned off. The link now works.
Works for me now. Thank you.

Thank you David. I will have a look.
Paul Anthony Brierley
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Cliff
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Post by Cliff »

Dear PaulB
I think Leolion is probably correct.
However, although I'm sure that although Matin Mabberley is a very experienced astronomer and has written several books including I think one including supernova searching I don't think Martin as actually discovered any supernova himself.
From the limited knowledge I have on the matter I think supernova hunting is not a pursuit to undertake lightly and I got the impression a relative few experts have got the techniques pretty well sewn up.
I think it is possible to get data bases of the internet but the gen kids like to establish their own galaxy image data bases - possibly being used with their own telescope and own typical observing conditions making things better.
I think there are standard reporting procedures if not followed then potential discoveries may not be taken seriously. There being two of you working as a team might might make confirmation easier, although independent confirmation would probably be needed.
From what I gather most of the top-discoverers use automated set ups.
How many galaxies to start with (?) I think some hunters search several hundred a night. However, I'd guess 50 might not be bad for starters.
In "Observing Variable Stars, Novae & Supernovae" (Cambridge 1994)
Gerald North says page 197
Supernova hunting
.........I must emphasise that the few successful supernovae hunters spend ALL there telescope time supernova hunting ..........
Best wishes from Cliff
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Post by PaulB »

Thank you Cliff,

I greatly appreciate, the time you've taken to type these words.

I agree, that a supernova search isn't for the faint hearted. But, and I must stress this.

Both I and my observing colleague, are doing it more for fun, and our own enjoyment. Rather than like most supernova searches, every clear night.

Nether of us have an observatory. But Paul is retired, so he does have the advantage, of being able to get out as and when we have a clear sky.

For myself. It is more time dependant, now that the clock's have altered, and it is now 9pm before the skies are dark enough.

Our intention is an hour, for a dedicated search every night. Before we both begin imaging.

And for this we both feel, a single binned 30 second exposure should be enough to show a galaxy, together with, a suspected supernovae, should there be one.

We will image fifty galaxies to begin with but. We have yet to decide which of the fifty galaxies to image.

Should we choose galaxies from the NGC catalogue, or should we go for some of the more obscure one's?

Incidentally: I have posted my question on the BAA forum. Together with this website.

So far you, the SPA membership, are the only people to reply to it.

Thank you.
Paul Anthony Brierley
Observation Co-ordinator for.
Macclesfield Astronomical Society
https://www.flickr.com/photos/paulabrierley/
http://pabastronomy.blogspot.co.uk/2018/
David Frydman
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Post by David Frydman »

There are also professional or semi professional teams finding good numbers of Supernova.
It needs total dedication and I think most supernova hunters use larger scopes than 200mm.

Until recent decades supernova discoveries by amateurs were few but the electronic age has changed that.

I agree with Cliff this is not to be undertaken lightly, which is not to say you shouldn't have a go.

Regards, David.
PaulB
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Post by PaulB »

David Frydman wrote:There are also professional or semi professional teams finding good numbers of Supernova.
It needs total dedication and I think most supernova hunters use larger scopes than 200mm.

Hi David,

It looks like It's up to me and Paul, then to prove you can discover a supernova with a small, CCD equipped 8inch telescope.

Paul also has the advantage that his SCT is fast-star compatible. And my OTA has Hi-Luxe mirror coatings on all the mirror's.

So I am confident we can discover something. Paul has been happily imaging the recent supernova in galaxy NGC2655

http://www.flickr.com/photos/35150877@N06/5421780297/

This supernova is still visible. Which must surely be a record.
Paul Anthony Brierley
Observation Co-ordinator for.
Macclesfield Astronomical Society
https://www.flickr.com/photos/paulabrierley/
http://pabastronomy.blogspot.co.uk/2018/
David Frydman
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Post by David Frydman »

Dear Paul,
My friend Kari Kaila with his home made observatory 200 mm Newtonian discovered a Supernova on film in I think the 1970s or maybe early 1980s.
From memory in M100 or M100 but I am not sure.
He showed me the photos and we both werenot certain it was a supernova and we hesitated not hhaving enough comparison photos. So it was not reported.
About three days later it was officially discovered.
However gerard de Vaucoulers, I am not at all certain of the spelling of his name insisted that Kari Kaila's prediscovery photo was first in his book or article of this important event.
I think at that time almost no supernovae had been discoved in the U.K. for years, so this find with a home made 200mm and ordinary film was special.
I have no doubt you could discover a supernova, but if you want to make a string of discoveries preplanning is required to optimise your chances.

It should say M100 or m101 above, but I can't recall with certainty which galaxy it was.
It was discovered in Finland in the countryside, pretty dark then.

Regards, David.

It was important because the prediscovery image several days earlier was mesasured to give an accurate magnitude, which helped greatly in producing a brightness graph.
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Post by Cliff »

Dear Paul
If you are happy to discover a supernova for pure fun then making an official report is not necessary of course -but you'll never be recognised as a supernova discoverer.
I was interested to hear David's mention of his friends supernova discovery and it seems unfortunate that no matter how genuine his observation was it will never get official recognition.
There is a chap in a society local to here (although he now lives in Srilanka I think) who discovered Supernova 1987A whilst living in the wilds of Africa. He made his way to a fellow amateur astronomer's house who had a telephone. Unfortunately the astronomer was out. the supernova discoverer talked to the astronomers mother who promised to tell the astronomer about the discovery when he got home. Unfortunately when the astronomer did get home the lady forgot to tell him about his friends discovery. So apparently the observers discovery never got reported for a day or two and he never got creditted with making the discovery.
So it seems if anyone hopes to be recognised as a supernova discoverer it is essential to know exactly the procedures needed to make an official report and waste no time in doing it.
Best wishes from Cliff
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Post by PaulB »

Hi Cliff,

Colin regrets that incident to this day. And know doubt, if he had, a mobile phone in 1987. History would be different.

Although our search will be for fun, as I said earlier. We will of cause be checking our image's.

And I use the word fun, because unlike other supernovae discovers. I do not intend to devote all of my time in a dedicated search, and do precious little else, whilst at the telescope.
Paul Anthony Brierley
Observation Co-ordinator for.
Macclesfield Astronomical Society
https://www.flickr.com/photos/paulabrierley/
http://pabastronomy.blogspot.co.uk/2018/
brian livesey
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Post by brian livesey »

Martin Mobberley published the book "Supernovae and How To Observe Them" (Springer, 2007). This is recommended reading for amateurs doing supernovae searches.
Another British amateur astronomer of renown is Ron Arbour, with 19 supernovae discoveries to his credit.
Last edited by brian livesey on Fri Apr 01, 2011 12:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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