New ‘Star’ Can Now Be Seen in Iowa
If you look up to the sky on a clear Iowa night, the naked eye can see around 2,000 stars. Now, there’s 2001 that you can see.
First spotted in March using a small telescope, a Nova -- the sudden appearance of a bright, "new" star, that slowly fades --- occurred near the constellation Cassiopeia the Queen. Named “V1405 Cas” it has suddenly flared in brightness over the past week, and now it can be spotted without binoculars or a telescope.
So, what causes a star to suddenly appear? A nova. This happens when a star takes gas – mostly hydrogen – from the nearby star. Temperatures and pressures to build, finally creating a gigantic explosion. The energy from the blast is traveling nearly 1,000 miles per second and is very bright, but it doesn’t last very long.
These are not rare, but only a few of them reach brightness levels where they are visible on Earth without the help of a telescope. One of the more recent novae that could be spotted with the naked eye was in 2013 in the constellation Delphinus, according to Earthsky.org.
It’s estimated that V1405 is around 5,500 light years away from Earth. That’s only 32,332,440,476,866,256 miles…give or take.
Currently, Cassiopeia is very low on the northern horizon in the evening, and will rise a bit higher as the night progresses. The nova is between the W shape of Cassiopeia and the house shape that makes up Cepheus. For more on how to pinpoint this new celestial body, tap here.