I just got back from a late night trip to the orange-zone Naylor Observatory. My wife and I went to see Skyfall, one of the better James Bond flicks, at a historic second-run theater in a town not far away. When we returned, which was shortly after midnight, I had a cup of java and a bit of a snack and then drove to the observatory. After donning my winter clothes, I prepared the ASH 17" f/15 classical Cassegrain and opened the dome shutter.
The conditions were not the best. The seeing was poor. Stars were quite bloated and Jupiter looked rather awful. Some thin, high clouds were present, as well. The temperature inside the French Dome was 28 degrees Fahrenheit.
After looking at M3, M65, M66, NGC 3628, M41, M42, Jupiter, NGC 2301, and M35, I began searching for SN 2012ht, a type Ia supernova in the faint spiral galaxy NGC 3447 in Leo. It wasn't hard to locate the position of the supernova due to a very distinctive array of fairly bright field stars but the galaxy itself was invisible. I increased magnification from 162 to 216x and a faint, occasional glimmer appeared at the right spot. I upped the power to 259x, then 324x, and finally 360x. The supernova had faded by about a magnitude from its peak magnitude but despite its magnitude 13.8 "brightness" and the poor conditions I was definitely able to behold the dying star, a victim of an explosion a wee bit bigger than the ones in Skyfall.
The sky began to grow even cloudier so I packed up and drove home.
Bond, James Bond, and a Supernova
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