THE SUN, OUR CLOSEST STAR, IS ONE-HALF USED UP.  WHEN THE FUEL’S GONE, IT WILL EXPLODE.  4 STAR DEATHS, OR SUPERNOVAS, HAVE ALREADY BEEN OBSERVED ON EARTH, THE FIRST 3 SEEN WITHOUT TELESCOPES.  THEIR DATES: 

• AD 1054

• AD 1572

• AD 1604

• AD 1987

For MORE about what happened on these dates, “walk through the DOOR.”

 

• AD 1054 −   This was observed, and reported, in Korea, China, Japan, North America, and the Middle East, but not in Europe.  According to Karl W. Giberson, in his The Wonder of the Universe, “It seems that Europeans, convinced that the heavens were perfect and unchanging, managed to delude themselves into not seeing [or not reporting] this new star [which blew apart in the Crab Nebula] which surely must have been quite visible.”  The actual explosion , that occurred many, many years earlier, left brightness in the sky that was seen for many days.

• AD 1572 −   The Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe first observed, and reported, this.  At first he couldn’t believe this was possible, but “unlike his predecessors he had enough confidence in his observations to know he was seeing something remarkable.” [Giberson]

• AD 1604 −  Just a generation later, enter Johannes Kepler, Brahe’s protégé.  He “witnessed another supernova…and then there were no more until 1987″ [Giberson] (that is none that were seen and reported).

It’s interesting to note that the telescope was invented just after Kepler’s discovery, perhaps spurred on by the excitement of the supernova just witnessed by so many.  And realize that the effects of supernova “light shows” last for long periods.  All three of these supernovas occurred in our own galaxy The Milky Way.

What may seem intriguing to many is that no more distinct supernovas appeared (to Earthlings, anyway…) until the 20th century.

• AD 1987  − This supernova occurred, not in The Milky Way, but a nearby galaxy called the Large Magellanic Cloud.  With the aid of sophisticated telescopes, the bits and pieces from this star’s death have been studied extensively.

My information comes from several sources.  Much more that can take you considerably farther can be easily found on the Internet.  Also, I’ll have a lot to say about Giberson’s book–after I finish reading it.