Yerkes still making Discoveries... Jul 24, 2006 0:10:30 GMT -6
Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Jul 24, 2006 0:10:30 GMT -6
Even at 109, Yerkes is still seeing stars
The discovery of Supernova 2006bg is among the more glamorous feats of this cutting-edge facility. It's also credited for bringing science and students together.
Yerkes Observatory may be the century-old grand dame of astronomy, but her eyes are still pretty sharp.
In March, Yerkes confirmed the discovery of a supernova in a distant galaxy that's part of the Ursa Major constellation, also know as the Big Dipper, said Kyle Cudworth, Yerkes science director.
A supernova is the explosion of a star far more massive than our sun, which while exploding becomes brighter than 100 billion suns. It might sound easy to find something that bright, but this supernova is far enough away — about 535 million light years — that it appears as only a tiny smudge on a plate of film.
Yerkes Observatory is known as the birthplace of modern astrophysics. A facility of the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics of the University of Chicago, it was established in 1897 on Geneva Lake in Williams Bay, Wis. The 77-acre site in southeast Wisconsin provides laboratory space and access to telescopes for research and instruction.
The image of Supernova 2006bg was taken by Robert Holmes, an amateur astronomer in Charleston, Ill., said Vivian Hoette, a member of the Yerkes staff. Holmes sends his images to Yerkes for use in the Hands-on Universe program, an education program that gets raw astronomical data into the hands of high school science students.
Hoette, who has never discovered a supernova, noticed Supernova 2006bg while reviewing the telescopic images and confirmed the finding using Yerkes' 24-inch reflector telescope.
Though technically not an astronomer — Hoette has a master's degree in education — she has a deep love of astronomy.
It is still a good scope with many more discoveries under it's belt.