Rob Kaufman in Victoria discovered a possible nova (PNV J11261220-6531086) near the Southern Cross (Crux) in the constellation of Musca on January 14 2018. All novae start out having the designation PNV or possible nova.
Rob’s discovery visual estimate was magnitude 7. I estimated it tonight with 7×50 binoculars at magnitude 6.7 relative to magnitude 6.4 and 7.1 comparison stars.
This context screenshot from Stellarium shows the nova’s location (cross-hairs at upper middle of image) relative to familiar stellar sign posts, including Crux and Alpha Muscae at 10pm Adelaide time (AEDT).
The next shows a narrower field of view with the nova at right of the helpful triangular, A-shaped asterism.
After submitting my observation tonight to AAVSO I noticed that since Rob’s discovery observation, only two have been submitted other than mine:
- another visual estimate by Sebastian Otero in Argentina (6.85);
- and a tri-colour green DSLR observation (6.72) by David Blane in South Africa.
What I love about such transients, is their spectacular brightness rise and unpredictability.
Will it become visible to the naked eye like the similarly southern and close-to-Crux V1369 Cen did in 2013 (peaking at around magnitude 3.4)? One never knows with these things but it’s worth noting, as per the CBAT transient report page, ASAS-SN observations suggest the nova may actually have started in the first few days of January. If so, perhaps we’re a little too far down the track to expect naked eye visibility. All we can do is to observe it and see!
Being such a southerly object, it will not be as well observed as novae in the northern hemisphere, but it’s in a great location, so have a go if you can! I’ll be out every clear night observing it when I can in the days to come, visually and possibly via DSLR.