Posted at 12:11 PM ET, 09/02/2011

See a supernova from your back yard this weekend


An artist's illustration of what the brightest supernova ever recorded may have looked like when it exploded. (NASA via AP)
Get out your binoculars and telescopes. This weekend, a supernova that is closer to Earth than any found in at least the last 25 years will be visible from your back yard.

The violently exploding white dwarf star is brightening in the Pinwheel Galaxy, approximately 21 million light-years away, Wired reports. (Most supernovas spotted by astronomers are around 1 billion light-years away and cannot be seen by amateurs.)

A supernova often causes a burst of radiation that can outshine an entire galaxy before it fades from view.

A team of astronomers from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California at Berkeley found the Type 1a supernova with a specialized survey telescope at the Palomar Observatory in Southern California this week.

The astronomers are now scrambling to observe the supernova with as many telescopes as possible, including the Hubble Space Telescope.

In the video below, Berkeley Lab’s Peter Nugent describes the equipment needed to spot this supernova, which will continue to get brighter for about a week:

Read more about the supernova from the Post’s Brian Vastag here.

By  |  12:11 PM ET, 09/02/2011

 
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