HomeSpace NewsFamous Tycho's star supernova flared up 450 years ago this month

Famous Tycho’s star supernova flared up 450 years ago this month

One of the most spectacular celestial sights ever seen suddenly appeared in the northern night sky 450 years ago this month: a “new” star in the  constellation Cassiopeia (the Queen). It was the most brilliant nova recorded in some 500 years and, to this day, remains one of only five known supernovas observed in our Milky Way galaxy. 

To get an idea of just how dazzling this object was, step outside an evening this week at around 8 p.m. local time and look high up toward the north-northeast sky at the familiar zigzag row of five bright stars that make up the “W” of Cassiopeia. Next, look toward the south-southeast at the brilliant planet Jupiter, shining like a silvery beacon, and try to imagine what it would look like if you could somehow ramp up its brightness eightfold. Then, turn back to look at Cassiopeia. Try to visualize such a dazzling object in that region of the sky, and you will get an idea of what this strange new star must have looked like to those living in the late 16th century.

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