Discover a Supernova!

5 01 2011

Do you like to look at the stars? We sure do and were excited to hear about a fellow young astronomer who made an out of this world discovery. On January 2nd, 10 year old Kathryn Aurora Gray found a supernova. A supernova is an explosion of a star. The huge release of energy that occurs during the explosion creates a bright burst of light that is billions of times brighter than the star was before it went supernova.

Telescope by Ryan Wick on flickr

The supernova that Kathryn discovered was in a distant galaxy, about 240 million light-years away from Earth. She identified the supernova by comparing images taken by telescopes – in one picture, there was a bright spec that didn’t appear in the other pictures – that was the supernova!

Astronomy runs in Kathryn’s family, her father, Paul has found seven supernovas. Follow this link to¬† listen to an interview that Kathryn did for NPR.

There’s an opportunity to go star gazing coming up this Saturday, January 8th. The folks at Westcave Preserve host monthly Star Nights where visitors can go out and look at the dark night sky and gaze through a high quality telescope. Follow this link for more information about this month’s Star Night.

A timelapse phot of stars by Odalaigh on flickr

You can even make astronomy discoveries during the day by participating in the Zooniverse project. Zooniverse started with the Galaxy Zoo project, and invited users to classify the shapes of galaxies. Now there are other Zooniverse projects including one that studies the surface of the moon and one that explores our own galaxy, the Milky Way.

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