Supernova PTF11kly

The Pinwheel Galaxy (M 101) is pictured as supernova PTF11kly heads towards peak brightness. Astronomers have discovered the closest supernova of its kind in 25 years, the flare of a star self-destructing a mere 21 million light years from Earth and soon visible to amateur skywatchers.

Supernova PTF11kly

The supernova is expected to reach its peak some time between September 9 and 12. During this period, it will be possible to see it through binoculars or a small telescope – if the viewing location is away from light pollution and the sky is clear.

To find the Pinwheel galaxy M 101, where the PTF11kly supernova is happening, look North-West for the Ursa Major constellation – also known as the Big Dipper.

Big dipper

Look at the ‘handle’ of the Big Dipper (pictured above) and imagine a line between the second and third stars. The blueish-white supernova is just above and to the left of this line.