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Hobbyist spots new supernova about 22 million light years from Earth

(NASA Photo)

A bright new supernova has been discovered in NGC 6946, a spiral galaxy some 22 million light years from Earth that is better known as the Fireworks Galaxy.

Though the supernova was discovered Sunday by Gary Wiggins of Stansbury, Utah, the actual supernova took place when dinosaurs ruled our planet. The light from the explosion simply took that long to get here.

This was a massive giant star and, when it reached the end of its life and exploded, it was — for at least a short time — the brightest object in the Fireworks Galaxy.

The galaxy earned its moniker because at least 10 supernovae have been found there since it was discovered by astronomer William Herschel on Sept. 9, 1798.

The supernova is officially known as AT 2017eaw and may be bright enough for you to view in a moderate sized-telescope, if you know where to look. After all, Wiggins spotted it with a telescope about that size, though he had been imaging galaxies for 469 days.

Here is the finder chart and information for more advanced observers. The galaxy will be high in our Arizona skies from midnight till dawn on these May evenings.

May skies offer something for everyone! Get you very own Dr. Sky May star chart.

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