John Birmingham and T Coronae Borealis

2 years 6 months ago #105820 by johnflannery
Hi all,

Today (May 12th) is the 150th anniversary of the discovery by John Birmingham of the recurrent nova T Coronae Borealis. This year is also the 200th anniversary of Birmingham's birth.

Prof Paul Mohr is giving a talk tonight about Birmingham in the Milltown Community Centre, Galway, at 8pm. Milltown is on the N17 road between Tuam and Claremorris. More info about Birmingham, including the location of a lunar crater named after him, can be found at milltown.galway-ireland.ie/john-birmingham.htm

Bob King ( astrobob.areavoices.com/ ) wrote a blog post on Sky & Telescope's web site about T CrB and the possibility of it blowing again in the next few years. See www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/whats-up-with-t-crb04202016/

An interesting article on John Herschel's claim he saw T CrB erupt 24 years before Birmingham, which would have cast doubt on it's apparent 80-year period: www.space.com/19580-astronomy-mystery-nova-star-explosion.html

Details below are from Galway Astronomy Club's ( www.galwayastronomyclub.ie ) web site.

In 2016 we celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of John Birmingham, a Galway based astronomer, amateur geologist, polymath who discovered who discovered T Coronae Borealis on the night of May 12th 1866. Rising up the eastern evening sky in springtime, is the little constellation Corona Borealis. Aside from its distinctive naked-eye shape, Corona Borealis holds a claim to fame: A faint star that on rare occasions turns bright. T Coronae Borealis - also known as The Blaze Star - is a recurring nova. It spends decades on end simmering at 10th magnitude, then blazes to 2nd or 3rd magnitude. Its last eruptions came in 1866 and 1946.

John Birmingham grew up on the Millbrook Estate outside Milltown, County Galway, and was educated at St. Jarlath's College in Tuam. After several years touring Europe he settled back in Milltown and from 1858 onwards he started contributing notes on astronomy to local newspapers. At Millbrook he built what the Tuam Herald called a large wooden house with a sliding roof, which formed his first observatory. Inside this observatory was a powerful 4.5 inch Cooke refractor telescope, fitted with a lens made by Thomas Grubb of Dublin. Using this he made a special study of red stars and revised and extended Schjellerup's Catalogue of Red Stars. Six hundred and fifty eight of these objects were included.

He presented this work to the Royal Irish Academy in 1876 and was awarded the Cunningham Medal. In 1881 he discovered a deep red star in Cygnus constellation that is named after him. Other subjects on which he published articles included meteor showers, Sunspots, the Aurora and the 1882 Transit of Venus. He had correspondence with other leading astronomers around Europe right up to his death at the Millbrook Estate in 1884. With his house left to ruin all that remains of his possessions is his telescope, which is now on display at the Milltown Community Museum.

Paul Mohr was born in England in 1931 and was educated at Manchester University. In 1977 he was appointed Professor of Geology at NUI Galway and retired in 1996. He is an amateur astronomer has had a keen interest in the life of John Birmingham and wrote a book about him in 2002 entitled "John Birmingham: Tuam and Ireland's New Star"

John Flannery ( aurorawatcher - at * gmail - dot * com ... remove hyphens/asterisks/spaces for email)
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2 years 6 months ago #105821 by Keith g
Thanks for the information John, I have been watching this one since 2002 and like many others are awaiting its next show.


If a telescope can fit into your backyard it's too small. If you can't move it, it's too big." -- John Dobson

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2 years 6 months ago #105832 by JohnONeill

T CrB, one of my long-time favourite variables, has a 'burp' recently to mag about 9.2 recently (about a 1.0 mag increase). It has now fallen to mag 9.8

I visually estimate it every clear night. I am eager to get back to CCD photometry later in the summer. I did my OU project doing CCD photometry of this star in 2014.

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2 years 5 months ago #105843 by Keith g
Hi John, me too, although I haven't looked at it in a few months. It still is at about magnitude 9.8.


If a telescope can fit into your backyard it's too small. If you can't move it, it's too big." -- John Dobson

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