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23 January 2014 @ 08:54 am
not-too-super nova  
I just got a note that there's a new supernova in M82, an easily visible galaxy near the Big Dipper.  Picture at http://www.universetoday.com/108386/bright-new-supernova-blows-up-in-nearby-m82-the-cigar-galaxy/

I was going to rush out tonight and take a look, but maybe I'll wait for it to get a little brighter.  That two-meter telescope has, let me see, 1600 times the light-gathering power of my four-inch.  That could cause eyestrain.

Obstructionist Husbandthewayne on January 23rd, 2014 03:21 pm (UTC)
Funny you should mention that. Yesterday or the day before, my wife mentioned that they had a TOO Preempt (Target of Opportunity), which is normally reserved for supernovi. And it was M82. Just her 3.5 meter was commandeered for it, the 2.5m stayed doing whatever it normally does.
joe_haldemanjoe_haldeman on January 23rd, 2014 04:03 pm (UTC)
3.5 meters
Now THAT is a light bucket!

Mea culpa . . . my mental calculation was farther off than usual. A two-meter objective collects only 400 times as much as a four-inch.

I wonder whether it's ever been used visually. I know that a lot of really big telescopes don't have any accommodation for eyepieces.

Obstructionist Husbandthewayne on January 23rd, 2014 05:36 pm (UTC)
Re: 3.5 meters
It's a pretty sweet telescope. You can swap instruments on it in ten minutes or so, in some cases it's just a matter of rotating the tertiary mirror. She also uses it to bounce a laser off of five retroreflectors on the moon, three left by Apollo astronauts and two by Lunakhod rovers. Unfortunately the new Chinese probe doesn't have a retroreflector. And she sometimes hits the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter satellite that's in a polar orbit.

I made a ten minute video on the laser program, it's pretty neat.

They mount an eyepiece whenever they have an open house or VIP tours, they say that if there's no instrument mounted and you point it at a full moon, you can read a newspaper from the light coming out of the port.

If you ever find yourself in the El Paso area, we're 100 miles N and I could definitely give you a VIP tour, no guarantee the laser would be running, that's a half-dozen times or so a month program. But it is at 9,000', some people have altitude sickness problems.
Obstructionist Husbandthewayne on January 24th, 2014 05:03 pm (UTC)
Re: 3.5 meters
Speaking further with my wife, or being lectured by my wife as we drove to Las Cruces yesterday, she said that her observatory, Apache Point, identified it as a Type 1A, which means it can be used as a standard candle, which is cool. Also, 1A's have the interesting property of no hydrogen in their spectra, apparently they've already gone through one collapse in which they'd already used up all of their hydrogen.