Before and after: An exploding star

On April 21, our member Dr. Norbert Reinecke pointed his private telescope at the galaxy Messier 61, which is about 66 million light years away from us, and took a picture in only five minutes. His telescope corresponds to the equipment in our observatory’s school lab. Only two weeks later, on 6 May, a supernova suddenly lit up there. A supernova is the brief, bright illumination of a massive star at the end of its lifetime by an explosion that destroys the original star itself. The luminosity of the star increases million to billion times, and for a short time it becomes as bright as an entire galaxy. Six days later, our member Peter Stinner also took a picture of Messier 61 at his observatory and was able to identify the supernova without any problems. The star exploded at the time of the fall of the dinosaurs. Such images are a prime example of the possibilities that will open up for pupils at our observatory.

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