Nova in Perseus

A new transient object has appeared in the constellation of Perseus, with the most recent observations putting it at magnitude 6.2. This is the brightest nova-like object to appear in the northern hemisphere of the sky since 2013. The object is not far from Capella, in Auriga, which is best seen in the late evening sky.

Position of nova (circled) as seen from the UK looking north-west at 11 pm BST

The nova is in the same position as the variable star V392 Persei, a U Geminorum-type variable with a normal range between magnitudes 14.1 and 16.9. These close binary stars are also known as dwarf novae, and vary in brightness as material from one star falls onto the other.

This particular star is normally around magnitude 15, though it experienced an outburst to mag 13 in 1999. However, an outburst of the size shown by this star is unprecedented.

The star’s position is RA 04h 43m, Dec +47º 21′. The map below shows a more detailed view of the area, with stars shown to magnitude 8.


Nova Persei 2018

Latest reports

The nova appears to be declining fairly rapidly in brightness. Estimates published by the Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams on CBET 4515 give values around mag 7 around 9 pm BST on 30 April, and estimates by SPA members Tracie Heywood and Bob Steele at around 11 pm BST give 7.3 and 7.2. Tracie has provided a link to an AAVSO chart for V392 Per that gives comparison stars in the area.

8 May 

Visual reports from the AAVSO show the nova to have faded to about magnitude 8.9.

The photo below, taken at 23.30 BST on 7 May, shows the object (arrowed) with nearby stars in the area and a chart for identification of the object. The star immediately to the left of the nova is magnitude 9.3.

Position and brightness of Nova Persei 1918 on 7 May 2018. The lower map shows the position of the object compared with Capella (SkyMap), with the area of the photo marked with a rectangle



Nova Persei
Nova Persei, arrowed, together with Capella (bright star at left) and the Haedi stars. Photo by Stuart Atkinson, Kendal, Cumbria, on 30 April 2018
Nova Persei 2018
A photo taken at 0h UT on 1 May shows the nova at about magnitude 7.3. Capella is the bright star at left. The inset shows a stack of 10 images taken through high cloud using an undriven camera. Photo: Robin Scagell