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Supernova in M82


In January 2014 light from a supernova in M82, the Cigar Galaxy, reached us here on Earth. I was able to view it with my small Dobsonian, but I wanted more so I signed up for one of the special viewing sessions on the 36" Telescope at McDonald Observatory.

When time came for the viewing session, skies were heavily overcast. Only I and two others stuck it out with staff member Dan Gordon. Dan was convinced the clouds would part if we were willing to wait it out. Finally it did clear, and the three of us were rewarded with a fantastic evening on the telescope.

I had asked Dan if we might view the supernova in M82, but he was doubtful because he felt it would be behind the dome of the 107" Telescope. As the session came to an end, Dan was kind enough to give it a try. M82 had just barely peeked out from behind the 107" dome, and we were treated to a sight few ever get a chance to see ... a supernova in a neighboring galaxy just 12 million light years distant. Viewed through the 36" scope it was fantastic, and an experience I will always treasure. I'd like to give a huge thank you to Dan Gordon for being willing to have a go at finding M82 in the waning evening hours. Thank you, Dan!