A nova has appeared in the constellation of Cassiopeia. Novae are stars that suddenly undergo an increase in brightness of typically over a thousand-fold, so what looks like a new star appears. In this case, the nova is 8th magnitude, which is visible using binoculars. But while the star was expected to fade, it has remained almost constant in brightness.
Recent observations suggest that the star is remaining at close to its discovery brightness of about magnitude 7.8. As of 17 April, observations show that it is currently only about 0.2 magnitude fainter. Many novae decline rapidly in brightness within days of their peak, but this nova is not showing any signs of doing this after nearly a month of observation and may be in the rare class with a flat-topped light curve. The reasons for the difference are unknown. So this object will continue to be of interest to astronomers and it is well worth watching over a period of time.
The object was discovered on 18 March by Japanese amateur astronomer Yuji Nakamura, who reported it to Japan’s national observatory. It has been confirmed as a nova on the basis of its spectrum. The nova is at RA 23h 24m 47.60s, Dec +61º 11′ 14.0″ (Epoch 2000.0)
The region of sky is easily visible in the evening, so use the maps below to locate it for yourself. But it is in a fairly crowded part of the Milky Way, and is close to another star of similar brightness, so compare your view carefully with the step-by-step maps below. The nova is very close to the well-known star cluster M52, and also to the Bubble Nebula, a popular target for deep-sky imagers.
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