The Crab Nebula was a star once. It exploded as a supernova in 1054, and was so bright that it was visible during the day for 23 days and at night for two years. At its center is the Crab Pulsar: a rapidly spinning neutron star.

See A Supernova From Your Backyard

by / September 6, 2011

Toward the end of this week, the closest supernova, or exploding star, to Earth in the last 25 years will be its brightest — which scientists say can be seen from our own backyards by simply using a pair of binoculars or a small telescope.

Astronomers discovered the type la supernova on Aug 24 within hours of its explosion, and said it’s visible to us here on Earth because it’s 21 million light years away (much closer than the typical 1 billion light years away where most supernovas are found).

In the following video, Berkeley Lab’s Peter Nugent describes how to spot this supernova, which is said to reach peak brightness on Friday Sep. 9.
 

Photo courtesy of starcraftscience.com