In April, I posted the blog, ‘Two Novae,’ describing novae occurring in the constellations Cassiopeia and Sagittarius. The nova in Cassiopeia, V1405 Cas, continues to brighten.
When the nova V14405 Cas was discovered on March 18th, it was a faint magnitude 9.6. When I photographed the nova on April 8th, it was visible in binoculars and telescopes at magnitude 7.6.
The nova’s brightness increased slightly during April, but on May 6-7, it spiked by almost two magnitudes. Now, the nova’s magnitude is 5.4, currently visible to the naked eye in clear, dark skies, if you know exactly where to look. Before dawn today, Cassiopeia was in the northeast, rising out of the Santa Fe light dome, as seen from my location. I couldn’t find V1405 Cas with the unaided eye, but it’s easily seen in the photos I took.
Here are two comparison photos, showing how the nova has brightened between the first photo, taken April 8th (top photo), and today’s photo (May 13th). The change in brightness relative to the background stars is obvious.
Changes in a nova’s brightness are unpredictable and, while models suggest V1405 Cas is at about its brightest, we’ll need to continue to observe this nova to confirm that. It’s worth noting that novae themselves are uncommon — novae bright enough to be seen with the unaided eye are rarer still.
To learn more about novae, please see the blog, ‘Two Novae,’ posted on April 9th.