How to find Nova Del 2013

The nova of Delphinus 2013 is still shining in the southern sky, and it’s brightness right now is about 5,0 magnitudes. It’s brightness peaked around 15./16. of August. The maximum brightness then was about 4,2 magnitudes. At maximum brightness, it would have easily been visible with naked eye even in some light polluted sub-urban areas! Now the nova have been getting fainter, but the decrease of brightness has been quite slow. It means that it is still a suitable target for observers with small binoculars or telescope! This nova is one of the 20 brightest novas all time, so this is a must-see object for every amateur astronomer and stargazer!

Then how to find the nova from the sky?

Look at the southern sky, there you will find constellation of Aquila, the eagle. The brightest star of Aquila, Altair, is the southernmost star of the so-called Summer Triangle. The stars of Summer Triangle are Altair (Aquila), Deneb (Cygnus, the swan) and Vega (Lyra, the lyre). Now go about 10º from Altair to northeast. From there, you will find small constellations of Delphinus, the dolphin and Sagitta. Sagitta is latin for “arrow”, and actually the small but distinct arrow -asterism of Sagitta is pointing directly to the nova! The nova is located roughly halfway from the easternmost star of Sagitta (eta Sge) towards star 28 Vul in constellation of Vulpecula, the fox.

Other way is to start from Alpha Del. From Alpha Del, go 5º north to 28 Vul. From 28 Vul, go 3º west, and there you can find the nova! The nova is part of a triangular asterism, which is pointing westwards to constellation of Sagitta. The nova itself is the westernmost star of this asterism!



First observation of Nova Del 2013!

Date: 15./16.8.2013
Time: 00:00-01:15
Observing site: Uittamo, Turku, Finland
Instrument: L102/1000mm (4” Lens)

NELM: 5,6
SQM: 19,65
Darkness of the background sky: 3
Seeing: 2
Transparency: 2
Weather: Clear sky, +10 °C, calm, no Moon, no aurorae

Objects observed: Nova Del 2013 (visual, photography), SS Cyg (visual), R Cyg (visual)

Japanese astronomer Koichi Itagaki of Yamagata, Japan discovered a new star in constellation of Delphinus in 14th of August 2013. This nova (latin for new star) was named Nova Del 2013, and many observers started to observe this phenomenon immediately! I did my first observation of this object in the night between 15th and 16th of August 2013. I estimated the brightness of the nova to be about 5.6 mag. After making a visual brightness estimation, I also photographed the object, and it is well visible in the photo!

Besides this new nova, I observed also SS Cyg and R Cyg. SS Cyg is it’s minimum state (12.0 mag.), just like couple of weeks ago when I observed it last time. I had look on the AAVSO light curve for the star, and I noticed that during my short observing break, the star had just erupted and the returned to the normal state! This outburst seemed to be a short one, lasting for about 7-8 days. This means that it takes another 2-3 weeks when the star could have an outburst again. R Cygni is getting brighter, and it is close to it’s maximum. The brightness of this mira -star was about 6.7 mag.

Now in mid-August, nights are already properly dark for astronomical observing at least here in southern Finland. It takes still another two weeks for the sky to get dark enough in northern Finland.  I went observing to a relatively dark site in Uittamo district of Turku, Finland. The site is an open place with only minimal amount of direct light pollution. This site is satisfactory for making dark sky observations. Observing conditions were rather good last night. NELM was 5,7 and SQM 19,65, which is really good enough for making astronomical observations!

Variable star observations:

Date Time Star Mag. Comp.
15./16.8.2013 00.30 Nova Del 2013 5.6 5.7
15./16.8.2013 00.46 SS Cyg 12.0 11.9
15./16.8.2013 01.00 R Cyg 6.7 6.5
Nova Del 2013 photographed 15./16.8.2013
Nova Del 2013 photographed 15./16.8.2013

Perseid meteor shower and heat lightnings 12./13.8.2013

Observed phenomena:  Perseid meteor shower, heat lightnings
Date: 12./13.8.2013
Time: 00:10-02:15
Observing place: Turku, Finland
Observing method: Photography
Technical information about photographing equipment: Canon EOS 1100D, objectives: Canon EF-S 18-55mm IS and Samyang 8mm fish eye -lens

I was observing the perseids -meteor shower in the night between 12th and 13th of August 2013 in Uittamo district of Turku, Finland. I was observing together with Linda Laakso, and together we observed in total 43 perseid meteors! Among the ordinary meteors, I was also able to see and photograph a really stunning perseid fireball, at least of magnitude -4!

Besides the meteor shower, we were able to observe some distant heat lightnings in the southern horizon. The lightning storm cell that caused the heat lightnings was somewhere over the Baltic sea in the south. The lightnings of this thunderstorm were flashing quite frequently, I was able to see lightning flashes in every one or two minutes!