Saturday, August 17, 2013

Nova and the Dolphin

Amateur astronomers are glowing over the appearance of a nova that is visible to the naked eye. Though the nova is in the eastern sky in the evening, I waited till it was in the west to photograph it. The moon was just past first quarter and bright enough to interfere with photography, so I waited till 3:00 on Thurs morning (8/15/2013) when the moon had set. Below is an annotated photo of the region I took last year with my 8/15 nova photo superimposed. An arrow depicts the nova.

(Tap or double-click to enlarge)

I was going to create an animated version to fade between last year's and this year's photos but had trouble aligning the stars in the two photos. Though both photos were taken with a 28mm lens, last year's image put the region of interest at the edge of the field of view, where the lens's distortion is greatest. My nova photo was centered on the Delphinius, so the stars wouldn't align. However, I found the misalignment revealing. The nova is the only star in this composite that doesn't have the illustion of a motion blur.

All stars that are in both images appear in motion or blurred, but the nova lacks a blurry companion because it appears in only one image. Below is the same composite image with an arrow depicting the nova.

The nova should be viewable at next Saturday's free public star party at Lake Skinner. Details to follow.


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