Are you looking for the supernova and having no luck? Currently visible to small telescopes in the Pinwheel Galaxy (M101), finding supernova SN 2023ixf requires a little skill with a aiming a telescope and, of course, clear skies.
If you’re lacking either, or both, then worry not because there is one way of making sure you see SN 2023ixf this week before it’s too late.
Where to find the supernova
Now shining at a magnitude of around +10 in the constellation of Ursa Major, “The Great Bear,” SN 2023ixf can be found in the outskirts of one of the most beautiful galaxies in the northern night sky.
A spiral galaxy that we have a face-on view of throughout the year, the Pinwheel Galaxy (or M101) is double the size of our Milky Way and around 23.7 million light years distant. It can be found very close to the handle of the Big Dipper asterism in the northern night sky and is high above the horizon at this time of year.
When to see the supernova online
On Thursday, May 25, 2023 at 18:00 EDT (22:00 UTC) the Virtual Telescope Project will stream images of SN 2023ixf in real-time. It uses two powerful 14-inch and 17-inch robotic telescopes based in Ceccano, Italy. Astrophysicist Gianluca Masi will host a live feed of the online observation on YouTube.
Closest supernova since 2014
At about 21 million light-years from the solar system, SN 2023ixf is the closest supernova since SN 2014J in the Cigar Galaxy (also called M82) in 2014, which was around 12 million light-years from Earth.
Although the Virtual Telescope Project’s massive telescopes will get a great view, SN 2023ixf can be seen through any backyard telescope albeit as a point of light. SN 2023ixf appears to still be brightening, which it’s predicted to do for a short period of time before beginning to fade, though it will likely remain visible for a few months.
A supernova is an explosion of a massive star that can briefly shine with the brightness of up to 100 billion stars.