Supernovae Hunting under the worst conditions.

It has been my desire to see the current supernovae with a pair of binoculars. I tried to find the supernovae 2011fe tonight with several pairs of binoculars. I used my 10×50’s, 9.5×63’s and a pair of 15×50 binoculars, all to no avail.

How bad can light pollution be? Well on a good night with low humidity I can see stars to somewhere between magnitude 4.5 to 4.7, but  the moon is 89% full tonight. Now you’re talking about real light pollution, in town with an almost full moon I could see somewhere between magnitude 3.5 to 4.0 with averted vision. Needless to say I did not find the supernovae with my binoculars. I was struggling to see stars to magnitude 7.5 with the binoculars in town at home.

Now with that being said, here is the good news. This was not so with my 2.6 inch AT66 ED refractor using a 7.5mm eyepiece for a magnification of 53x. Having found the location of the galaxy with a 25mm eyepiece at a magnification of 16x, I upped the power to 53x and started looking for the novae. Surprise, surprise, I saw a very faint star in the correct location for the novae about 25% of the time using averted vision. It was the only star seen in this location, and since the supernovae is magnitude 9.9 and the brightest stars in this area, which were not visible are magnitude 11.7 and 11.9, I saw the supernovae .

Amazing, with a 66mm ED refractor in town with an almost full moon I bagged supernovae 2011fe. From a dark sky site, depending on the altitude of the object, how clean the optics are, etc., I should be able to see a star of 12th magnitude with this telescope. With all the light pollution, I think being able to see a star within two magnitudes of the scopes limit is great, even if it was with averted vision.

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