I ‘think’ I have confirmation of spotting the SN 2011dh in M51. Friday started out as a very gloomy day, with thick cloud cover, but at dusk the clouds were quickly retreating, and I could see blue sky toward my north west. Sure enough, a quick peak outside at 9pm CST, confirmed the skies were clearing, with some lingering high clouds still looming around. At 12am, the sky was clear, and most importantly, the sky transparency seemed to be good as well.
I grabbed my LS 8 ACF, set it up outside and took the caps off to permit its auto-alignment, while I go in and do some research for the possible position of the supernova. My brief search yielded some fine astrophotos by amateurs, as well as some nice sketches. I was a bit concerned that I would not visually be able to confirm SN 2011dh visually, since the apertures described were 10″ and larger scopes. An 8″ should still be able to reach down to 13.9 by a quick calculation here at this website, so I was encouraged enough to go out and give it a try, especially since recent updates indicated the supernova has brightened to magnitude 12.7.
I sketched M51 on Saturday morning. I have the suspect supernova noted with 2 lines. I have two concerns about the confirmation of SN 2011dh. One is the fact that there is a star that I see in images that is on the same side of the galaxy as the supernova, even though its listed at mag 13.4, its still may be what I have caught. Second is the fact that I could not see any confirmation of the arms of the galaxy extending out to that suspect object. If there were visible arms, even a hint, then I would feel fairly confident I nabbed it. But here’s the sketch either way, let me know what you think.
M51 has disappointed me before, at least for the ability of me to see galaxies arm’s better, but I could see the core easily, and indeed NGC 5195 was easy as well. I could also see a distinct brightening in the core of NGC 5195, which I tried to represent in the sketch.
Its very exciting to spot SN 2011dh visually, if indeed my further researching can confirm that is what I captured. My next project, if weather and time permit, is to capture it photographically with the DSI II. Friday night was a fantastic observing session overall, and my next post will be expanding on the remaining deep-sky targets I viewed that evening as well, but I’m thankful, if indeed confirmed, I just nabbed my very first supernova! Try for yourself next time your out, at the eyepiece.And don’t forget, to call into the At The Eyepiece Show if you want to share your observations, I’d love to hear about it. Below is a quick finder chart for M51, which rides high this time of year, thus very well placed for observing.