A new supernova 21,000,000 light-years away is now visible in the night sky

Stargazers are in for a treat as astronomers have spotted a massive exploding star that is now visible in the night sky.

Just this week, the Hubble Space Telescope began studying the supernova named SN 2023ixf by the International Astronomical Union (IAU).

It is located in the Pinwheel Galaxy, also known as Messier 101, 21 million light-years away from Earth.

The face-on spiral galaxy is part of the Ursa Major constellation, home to the familiar Big Dipper.

The discovery was made by renowned supernova hunter Koichi Itagaki in Yamagata, Japan.

A supernova is the result of a star collapsing and exploding in a brilliant burst of light and is not very common. The discovery has sent amateur astronomers into a tizzy with many of them sharing their pictures of it on social media.

It’s not clear how long SN 2023ixf will be visible in the night sky but supernovas can usually be seen as bright points of light for a few weeks before fading. Some can be visible for months.

While the supernova is not visible to astronomers in the southern hemisphere, people in the UK will be able to spot it with the right equipment.

How to see the supernova from the UK?

You can use stargazing apps like Stellarium Online to find the exact location of SN 2023ixf.

First find Messier 101, the unmistakeable spiral galaxy under the stars Mizar and Alkaid in the handle of the Big Dipper.

You can use any small telescope to view SN 2023ixf. Start by spotting the star Alkaid in the Big Dipper’s handle and making your way.

If you have more advanced kit like a ‘go to’ telescope, ask it to search for M101.

If that sounds like too much work, you can always tune into a virtual stream of live images of the exploding star.

On Thursday, May 25 at 11.00 pm The Virtual Telescope will stream live images of SN 2023ixf using their telescope based in Ceccano, Italy.

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