Visual Discovery of SN 1997bp in NGC 4680.

Following the full moon on Monday, March 24, I was able to make use of a few brief periods totalling about an hour and a half before the Easter weekend to make some 160 galaxy observations at home in Coonabarabran using the 0.41m telescope.

On Easter Sunday afternoon, Elaine and I started one week of holidays in our new 'retirement' villa at Hazelbrook, on the Blue Mountains. At the villa I had use of a 0.31m telescope observing from the balcony, which is restricted by several nearby high trees, some lights and part of a building. The result is that access to the sky is limited by nearly fifty percent. Overhead, north and southeast are the best areas, but this, again, is restricted by the fact that a Dobsonian mounting is being used.

Most of the evening were at least partly fine, and I started from the beginning of the galaxy list. By the next Sunday night, April 6, after a total of ten hours of observing, a tally of 650 galaxy observations had been made, involving 600 different objects. Another 150 objects still awaited early morning observing.

It was at this point that I at last looked at NGC 4680, and recognized a new star just south of the galaxy. Because of being on holidays my resources for comparison purpouses were rather limited, and so I had to rely upon amateur contacts in Queensland to verify my memory of this galaxy, and also to obtain visual confirmation of the supernova.

Peter Marples of Loganholme, a suburb of Brisbaine, was able to get a picture of the galaxy off the Internet, and also had an enlarged photocopy of the galaxy derived from the first POSS. He was also able to observe the galaxy and verify the existance of the new star, using his 0.36m telescope in the backyard observatory. Peter then sent an e-mail message to the Central Bureau with the informations we had.

Subsequent observations, by both professional and amateur astronomers, have shown that the supernova is of type Ia, and was still approaching maximum brightness. The galaxy has a foreground star on its eastern edge, and the supernova could be compared with this star to show wether it was rising or not.

Robert Evans