Message in a Bottle
The Dumbbell Nebula (M27) in Vulpecula

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Carl Sagan called Earth the shore of the cosmic ocean, and he was far from wrong. Each day, new information about the universe, ourselves and our place within it washes up on the beach, like a message in a bottle- you simply have to have the fore site or luck to know where to look. On the evening of August 17- 18, 2005, two European astronomers simultaneously discovered a new star in line of site with the Dumbbell Nebula. A few days later on August 21, in an effort to validate the discovery, Wolfgang Renz, of the BAV (German Workgroup for Variable Stars), posted a plea for prior imagery.

That message overturned my plans for the evening and focused my activity for the rest of the week. It also enabled me to have a front row seat as the astronomy community coalesced to better understand this cataclysmic event. Like a passenger on a voyage of discovery, my opportunity to help these captains of science in their wheelhouse has been an experience that I will never forget!

The image above is based on a project began in June, before the first scrap of information about this event arrived on shore, and ended just days ago with a full color image of the beautiful new blue star!

Pre-nova (left): June 5- 6; July 4-12; August 11, 2005
Post-nova (right): June 5- 6; July 4-12; August 25, 2005

RCOS 20- inch, SBIG STL-11000
Takahashi Mewlon 300, f/9; SBIG ST-10XME, AO-7, CFW8a