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  1. #1
    luciencd's Avatar
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    Default looking at a new supernova, safe?



    i always thought it was kind of amazing to me to look at a supernova, evolving over nights till it formed a shell that resembled a nebula.

    Is it really safe to look at supernovae through a telescope, i get it for ones that are
    about <-5 magnitude. but those that are >-10? i think that it might be quite dangerous, because at that intensity the supernova's x and gamma rays could actually penetrate earth's magnetic field and atmosphere. if a supernova caused global radiation to rise by 100 times looking through a telescope at the supernova would cause the brain and eye to be exposed to concentrated gamma rays and x rays.

    so i ask, is it safe to look at a supernova, if it recently exploded?
    at what magnitude would it start to be unsafe?
    would it break/damage your eyepieces?(idk i would like to know)
    Is this common astronomical knowlege, or should people be advised of this? there are signs to not point your telescope at the sun, but will there ever be a "no bright supernova viewing, blindness and cancer may occur".

    anyways, clear skies, i just got a meade eyepiece (82fov
    )

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  3. #2
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    From here there safe, a tad bit far tbh too worry about gamma rays . Our local background radiation is probs stronger !

    Clear Skies

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  5. #3
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    I think it's safe to say that x and gamma rays aren't too affected by lenses and go straight through - though I cold be wrong - but evenif I am wrong, the distance that a SN would have to be to hurt our eyes would be an extinction event - so it's moot.
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  7. #4
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    Neither Xrays nor gamma rays will focus in your glass mirror or glass lens scope. They pass through as Jennifer says. There is no additional risk.

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  9. #5
    luciencd's Avatar
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    argh, didnt think of that :P plus i just learned about this a week ago. XD

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    A part of the question no one has answered is the magnitude that would cause eye damage. I'll let you do the math. But here are a couple of hints.

    A 5 mw green laser is considered "eye safe" for short exposure times. That is why they don't require special controls on sales and use. But they are stressing a healthy eye. The beam size can fully enter a dark adapted eye.

    The sun is not safe. It will burn the retina.

    Now you could calculate the intensity of the sun and compare it to a green laser. Use 3 mm as a day time eye.

    There are sources which will tell you w/m^2 for the sun, moon and planets. That can be converted to magnitude.

  11. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by luciencd View Post
    i always thought it was kind of amazing to me to look at a supernova, evolving over nights till it formed a shell that resembled a nebula.

    Is it really safe to look at supernovae through a telescope, i get it for ones that are
    about <-5 magnitude. but those that are >-10? i think that it might be quite dangerous, because at that intensity the supernova's x and gamma rays could actually penetrate earth's magnetic field and atmosphere. if a supernova caused global radiation to rise by 100 times looking through a telescope at the supernova would cause the brain and eye to be exposed to concentrated gamma rays and x rays.

    so i ask, is it safe to look at a supernova, if it recently exploded?
    at what magnitude would it start to be unsafe?
    would it break/damage your eyepieces?(idk i would like to know)
    Is this common astronomical knowlege, or should people be advised of this? there are signs to not point your telescope at the sun, but will there ever be a "no bright supernova viewing, blindness and cancer may occur".

    anyways, clear skies, i just got a meade eyepiece (82fov
    )
    If you're concerned about blindness and cancer, I recommend you not look at Betelgeuse. Also known as Alpha Orionis, the red supergiant is around 600 light years away. According to reputable scientists, the massive star is about to go supernova soon (which means it could have happened 599 years and 11 months ago and the evidence of the explosion will reach us any day now, or it could happen in "only" a million years).

    But according to not so reputable sources found all over the internet, Betelgeuse did blow 600 years ago, and the Earth will get whammied with a deadly gamma ray burst exactly on... Dec. 22nd 2012 (of course!).

    So if this happens, and your concerns for your health are still worrying you, you may want to avert your gaze, but I can assure you that the rest of us will be glued to our eyepieces.
    Personnaly, I always give Betelgeuse a quick check when I'm observing, just in case it does blow while I'm looking!
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  13. #8
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    we will only be bombarded by harmful radiation if a type II supernova occurred to a star that is 100 ,and less, light year away from earth. For example, earth would be in trouble when the star Beetlejuice explodes. If the star is further out, then it doesn't effect you or the earth.

    magnitude of a star mean how bright it appears on our night sky. It has nothing to do with size of a star. A low magnitude star could mean that the star is closer to earth so it appears brighter, or it could mean that the star is further out but is a bigger star so it appears bright.

    You don't have to worry about radiation poisoning from the telescope on earth. That's because our magnetic field defects gamma rays and other harmful ray form the electromagnetic spectrum. you would be in trouble only if you are in space outside of earth.

    And don't believe in the end of that world on Dec/22/2012. How many men predicted the end of the world with great accuracy?


    Near-Earth supernova - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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  15. #9
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    Betelgeuse is 500 light years away
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    Betelgeuse is 500 light years away
    LOL I thought that it was spelled Beetlejuice. I guess I confused the star with the movie. But Betegeuse is over 640 light years away and I was just using it as an example, but yes Betegeuse won't have any advert effect to earth.

    The author concludes that a supernova has to be within 10 parsecs (30 light years) or so to be dangerous to life on Earth. This is because the atmosphere shields us from most dangerous radiations. Astronauts in orbit may be in danger if a supernova is within 1000 parsecs or so.

    No stars currently within 20 parsecs will go supernova within the next few million years.
    link for the Quote Destruction of the Earth by a nearby supernova

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