: Amateur astronomer over the moon after discovering 290million-year-old supernova
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Posted 07 October 2010 - 08:07 PM
It took almost 300million years, but last month the light from a supernova explosion was spotted by an amateur astronomer in his garden shed. David Grennan, 39, was just about to go to bed on September 17 when he spotted the exploding star through the telescope at his home observatory in Raheny in Dublin. He beat professional astronomers across the globe with his discovery, which was officially confirmed by international astronomy authorities earlier this week.
It is the first supernova to be discovered in Ireland.
Mr Grennan explained: 'I was going to wrap things up and go to bed and then I thought, "Dave, you don't make discoveries in bed - at least not these sort of discoveries".' The explosion happened long before dinosaurs roamed the Earth.
Mr Grennan discovered the supernova by comparing images taken of the same area in the sky in August and September. He noticed a black spot in the later images that had not been there previously. Although it appears tiny on the page, he said the force of the supernova would be equivalent to 100million Earths exploding at the same time.
Mr Grennan works as a software developer for CIÉ but spends all his spare time star-gazing. 'It was a hobby I developed when I was five years old,' he said. 'I was always wondering about the stars and the atmosphere. 'I used to stand out in my back garden every night and my mother would come out but instead of telling me to come inside, she would put a coat and scarf on me and let me stay out, and call me back in when it got too late.'
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