I got a look at the supernova in Messier 82 early this AM under somewhat trying conditions. We had clear skies forecast in front of an incoming snowfall but the reality was high clouds and haze coming and going throughout the session. At times I could only see the two pointer stars of the Big Dipper. I never could see any of the Little Dipper except for Polaris and it would come and go.
On top of that, my scope's alignment is off but because it was so cold (3°F/-16°C) I didn't want to spend the time finding new calibration stars. I thought, well I'll just point the scope manually and use the 9x50 finder scope to locate M81/M82. Not so easy when the transparency keeps tanking. Also, it's hard to point a big CAT without a telrad.
Long story short, after an hour I located M81 in the finderscope during a period of better transparency and easily hopped from there to M82 using my widest field eyepiece (a 2 inch 52mm yielding 75x and an fov of ~48 arcmins).
At this point I was still warm and was warmed even more by the sight of the supernova. I could see it at 75x with direct vision (14 inches of aperture didn't hurt either) and comparing it to a nearby mag 11.2 star (using an AAVSO chart) estimated the SN at ~11.0 magnitude. It didn't look brighter than the 11.2 star but against the background nebulosity of the gx appeared more intense and more of a pinpoint, hence the higher estimate.
I gaped at the SN for 20 or 30 minutes and then cranked up the scope a bit to 98x to make the sketch. By then clear patches were arriving less frequently and staying for a shorter period of time. Because of the transparency issue I was having trouble focusing so I centered that reddish star to the north of M82 that Jason has in his sketch, focused on it, and returned to M82 and the SN. I did not see any color in the SN.
Conditions prevented me from seeing much detail in M82 except for the dark lane but it was enought to see the supernova. It must really be a sight for any denizens of that galaxy or its neighbor.
By now I had been out for 3 hours and was getting cold--also the clouds were getting serious so I battened down the observatory and came in. It started snowing about 3 hours later and still is.
The sketch was done on white paper with 2B and HB pencils, a stump, and kneaded eraser and then inverted. I also flipped it for the correct view and tweaked the levels.
When I was sketching at the eyepiece I was wearing cotton gloves withe silk inserts. I also had a chemical handwarmer for an extra shot of heat. After I came in I fine tuned things a little bit. As I look at it now, the 12th mag stars are a little brighter than they should be. This cold weather sketching is hard--hats off to all who are doing it--but it's worth it to get a look at this new super star.