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Still Waters

Amateur astronomer discovers supernova

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An amateur astronomer has discovered a previously unknown supernova - an exploding star - from the back garden of his home in the Republic of Ireland.

Dave Grennan made the discovery using the observatory he set up at the rear of his house in Raheny, north Dublin.

It is the third time he has discovered a supernova from his home.

http://www.bbc.co.uk...europe-27185965

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That's one of the things I love about astronomy, even in the 21st century amateurs can still make significant discoveries.

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Space, the final frontier...wait a minute, I think somebody already said that! :D Anyway, you know what I mean...there's so much 'out there' to be discovered.

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I find it quite interesting that it is precisely the amateur astronomers that make these discoveries. Is it perhaps because sometimes the seasoned ones tend to overlook things they think are trivial?

Pretty cool I think to be able to discover something like that. You really have to know the night sky I guess.

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Posted (edited)

I find it quite interesting that it is precisely the amateur astronomers that make these discoveries. Is it perhaps because

sometimes the seasoned ones tend to overlook things they think are trivial?

Nope, it`s the huge number of amateur astronomers globally (I`m one of them) that makes such findings happen.

Pretty cool I think to be able to discover something like that. You really have to know the night sky I guess.

Not really, todays telescope technology helps a lot. I have a guided telescope with GPS module, Go-To function and a

database of 40.000 objects. You just need to align it by centering 3 stars or planets one after another and the machine

"knows" where it is. After that you can targed any visible or non visible object on the sky and the machine follows it by

compensating the earth rotation. And yeah, it`s fun.

Edited by toast
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Posted (edited)

Is it perhaps because sometimes the seasoned ones tend to overlook things they think are trivial?

On the contrary, the professionals want to know about supernova discoveries (and comet discoveries, another area where amateurs excel) as soon as they happen, but they, to a degree, allow the amateurs to look for these things.

There are a limited number of large professional telescopes and so observing time on them is at a premium. Searching through hundreds of galaxies to find a new supernova is incredibly time consuming and there is just not enough time to do this with professional instruments.

However tens of thousands of amateurs can, between them, search an awful lot of sky, night after night. Once the supernova has been detected then the professionals will turn their multi-million dollar telescopes towards the area of interest.

However the sort of software that toast mentions means that an increasing number of these objects ARE now discovered by professionals. Using smaller, cheaper robotic telescopes and advanced software observatories are scanning the skies for things like near-Earth asteroids. They will also detect comets, novae and supernovae.

The professionals software is even better than that available to amateurs, so many of the discoveries are now made by computer.

Edited by Waspie_Dwarf
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3 of them! I'd love to discover just one LOL!

The amatuer contigent are often largely underated, one of my fellow countrymen was the first to spot the last 2 Jupiter strikes.

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I personally know one of these supernova hunters, and I don't mean via the web.. I was at a party talking to him about his recent work barely three days ago. He does it for fun, is not affiliated with any organisation or gov't, but corresponds with fellow enthusiasts here in Oz in a little club of those with similar interests. You should see the scope he uses - including the refrigerated ccd, and he manages to do this from a relatively light polluted high-density neighbourhood near the Gold Coast. I won't identify him but he has his name on more than 5 supernovas so far...

I'm not currently in an astronomy club I confess (I've recently relocated and just haven't had time), yet I already know him and at least 3 others within 20km of me who have astonishingly good telescopes and do lots of night-time observing using lots of diverse equipment from all-sky cams thru to high power binoculars thru to really big GoTo scopes - two of them have dome type backyard observatories. These folks LOVE to show off their equipment and talk about the stuff they have, and the stuff they see, and I'd invite anyone who doubts their sincerity and abilities to actually go find them and talk to them. Join your local astronomy club, and you'll find out just how much observing happens completely in the hands of Joe Public.

For Oz-based folks, have a look here at IceInSpace - it's an astronomy site and forum for amateurs. Actually, I'd recommend it for anyone...

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Heres a closer look at 2014as

Possible supernova in NGC 5410.  April 19, 2014

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