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August 16, 2013

Nova Delphini 2013

Nova_in_Delphinus_PSA64_341pxA bright nova was discovered on 14 August 2013, in the constellation of Delphinus, near its border with Vulpecula.

The position is RA 20h 23m 30.73s, Dec +20 deg 46m 04.1s. A detailed star chart can be found here: http://media.skyandtelescope.com/documents/Nova_in_Delphinus_PSA64.pdf

Martin Male reports that he saw the nova on the evening of 15 August, and it was visible without any optical aid from Romney after the Moon had set. He estimated the magnitude at +5.

Recent observations from the American Association of Variable Star Observers report that the nova has now brightened to beyond mag +4.5 (as of 16 August). See http://www.aavso.org/lcg/plot?auid=000-BLC-933&starname=NOVA%20DEL%202013&lastdays=30&start=2456518.157746227&stop=2456528.157746227&obscode=&obscode_symbol=2&obstotals=yes&calendar=calendar&forcetics=&grid=on&visual=on&r=on&bband=on&v=on&pointsize=1&width=800&height=450&mag1=&mag2=&mean=&vmean= for an up-to-date light curve.

For those of you that are unfamiliar with novas, they generally occur in tightly orbiting binary star systems, where one ‘normal’ star streams hydrogen onto the surface of a companion white dwarf star. Eventually, when the layer of fresh hydrogen on the white dwarf star grows dense enough, the bottom layer of gas explodes in a runaway hydrogen-fusion reaction. The white dwarf star remains intact, however, so the process can repeat over several cycles (with each cycle lasting from a few years to tens of thousands of years).

This nova is one of the brightest to be seen in several years.

UPDATE: Flamsteed member Mal Beckford has sent us this image, which shows the night sky on the evening of Thursday 15 August. The nova is clearly visible in the constellation of Delphinus, on the border of Vulpecula. The main stars in Sagitta are good ‘pointer’ stars to the nova, which has been circled in the image.

UPDATE 2: Malcolm Porter has sent through this image, taken on 19th August, where he estimates the magnitude to be around +5.3 or +5.4. According to the AAVSO, the nova is currently (22 August) at around magnitude +5.5.


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