Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Wish on a Star: Rare Photographs Show Supernova

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Wish on a Star: Rare Photographs Show Supernova

Article excerpt

The astronomy world is starry-eyed over a couple of high school students who accidentally captured a rare photograph of a supernova, or an exploding star.

Heather Tartara and Melody Spence, both 17 and juniors at Oil City High School, wanted to get a sharp, clear photograph of a whirlpool galaxy for a science class assignment. They chose a cluster of stars about 13 million light years away and sent the information to an observatory.

"We liked it because it had a black hole and two suns, and it had a whole bunch of stars around it," Tartara said. "It just seemed interesting."

The Leuschner Observatory at the University of California at Berkeley, which works with high school students in a program called Hands on Universe, used a 30-inch telescope to take two photographs of an area in the M51 galaxy using the coordinates plotted by the teen-agers.

The pictures were taken March 29 and March 31. On April 2, two amateur astronomers identified Supernova 1994I in the same galaxy. …

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