Nova Aquila 1918
A brilliant nova was recorded on June 8 1918 at a time when armies on the western front were engaged in a massive battle.
When first seen it was of the 1st magnitude. Among the many early observers to see the Nova was E Barnard who was in the state of Wyoming to watch an eclipse of the Sun which had occurred a few hours earlier! Another early discoverer was a young 17 year old Leslie Peltier who would go on to become America’s champion comet hunter and variable star observer.
By the following day June 9th it reached a magnitude of -1.4 and was rivalling Sirius the Dog Star as the brightest star in the sky. It then slowly faded an would still just about be visible to the naked eye in March 1919.
A nova is a binary system where one star is more hotter and more massive than the other and pulls gas way from the larger although less massive star, some of this gas will fall on the surface of the of the hotter star this star then throws of a shell of gas representing about 0.1% of its mass into space. We see this gas as the star gets brighter.
The term Nova is Latin for ‘New’ several hundred years ago astronomers thought that the nova they were seeing were stars being born.