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rayweeboy
2010-May-04, 03:45 AM
Is anyone familiar with a Supernova in or around the year 714? It would have been visible in the Northern Hemisphere. I think I found a reference to one in an obscure medieval Welsh text, but I can't find any information on it.

dtilque
2010-May-04, 05:01 AM
It's not one of the historical supernovae. There's only about 7 or 8 that are reasonably certain plus a number of others that are questionable. This page (http://seds.org/messier/more/mw_sn.html) has a list of both kinds and there's nothing from the 8th century at all. So it looks like you may have discovered a new one. Congratulations.

Can you give any info? Translation of the text or something? Ideally they want to know where (what constellation), how long visible, and how bright (compared to Venus or Sirius or whatever). Any info like that?

Romanus
2010-May-05, 10:42 PM
Hmm...I think it's unlikely that it was a supernova, as one that young would still probably be a robust radio and high-energy radiation source, particularly if it were close enough to be visible. It might have been a nova, though, some of which can be pretty spectacular (see Nova Aquilae 1918).

I second the request for follow up info. :)

rayweeboy
2010-May-07, 04:45 AM
I have almost no information, just a line from the Annales Cambrae, which is basically a just timeline of historical events, which was written by someone in the tenth century. There are little one sentence entries for each year. For a year which was most likely 714: "The night was as bright as day." Most of the entries read like "Beli son of Elffin dies. And the battle of Hehil among the Cornish, the battle of Garth Maelog..." There are a few mentions of Astronomical events though, and it's not a very imaginative piece, which leads me to believe that the bit about night and day probably isn't just a bit of rhetorical flourish.

I love astronomy, but my goal is to authenticate the text. If I could figure out what it was the author saw and document it, then I might be able to argue that the author is a reliable source on other things, most notably his insistence that someone named King Arthur won the battle of Mount Badon.

AndreasJ
2010-May-07, 12:20 PM
I have almost no information, just a line from the Annales Cambrae, which is basically a just timeline of historical events, which was written by someone in the tenth century. There are little one sentence entries for each year. For a year which was most likely 714: "The night was as bright as day."
Seems offhand unlikely that this was a nova or supernova - if it were and anywhere close enough to justify the description of making the night as bright as day, one'd expect it to have been noticed elsewhere, and therefore mentioned in Chinese and Arab annals, and it also seems a tad odd just to mention the light but not the enormously bright star originating it.

Perhaps a more local and diffuse phenomenon, such as a really bright aurora?

Jens
2010-May-10, 03:13 AM
Perhaps a more local and diffuse phenomenon, such as a really bright aurora?

Yes, with only that mention is seems like it could refer to a lot of things. A meteor strike, or even a big fire or something. Bonfires used in battles or something like that is also possible.

BigDon
2010-May-10, 03:17 AM
I'd go with a bolide. (fireball)

I've seen very bright ones that never made the local news.

JohnD
2010-May-11, 12:39 PM
CE (?) 715 & 713 "Nox lucida fuit sicut dies. pipínus maior rex francorum obíít in christo"
The night shone as if it were day. The great French King Pippin died, having become a Christian.
See: http://www.kmatthews.org.uk/history/annales_cambrie/ac_a.html

Have to say, as annals they are a bit thin. There are gaps of twenty years, or is that where it is indecipherable?

John

rayweeboy
2010-Jun-22, 02:26 PM
The Annales Cambrae is very thin, but there are a few astronomical events listed in it, which leads me to believe that the author was probably working with some sort of source book written by someone who was familiar with Astronomy, although I don’t think the author of the text itself was. Judging by the style, I don’t think that whoever observed the phenomenon knew what it was, otherwise I think it would be more specific. I doubt that it was a fire of any kind. I could rule out an aurora, but it is Wales, and I would think that would be more likely someplace further North. I assumed that when he said “the night was as bright as day” that he meant the entire night was as bright as day, but this was an assumption on my part.

AndreasJ
2010-Jun-23, 07:25 AM
Far north, auroras are common enough a chronicler wouldn't think to mention them in a very terse annal like this. The explanation is plausible only because bright auroras are rare enough in Wales that people would find them remarkable.