An amateur astronomer has discovered a new star from his backyard in Bright.
Rob Kaufman has been officially recognised by the International Astronomical Union for discovering Nova Muscae 18, located in the Musca constellation just south of the Southern Cross.
Mr Kaufman, a Bright Astronomy Club member, photographs the night sky and juxtaposes new shots against old ones.
“I’ve been searching for these things for 10 years without success,” he said.
“A nova is a binary star; there’s two stars and one of them draws matter off the other star.
“When it gets enough matter on the surface it detonates in a runaway nuclear-fusion reaction, which increases its brightness.
“That’s why we see a new star appearing suddenly from Earth – it will fade off in time.
“Astronomers are very interested in nova, for the processes involved, and there are maybe 10 discovered in a good year.
“The very strange thing is three have been discovered in the last week, so my five minutes of fame finished quickly.”
Mr Kaufman photographed this particular section of the Milky Way on January 14 and when he compared it to his last photo from the year before, his eye was drawn to a bright light.
“I took the camera out again and by putting this grating over the lens you can work out what a star is … straight away, I saw it was a nova,” he said.
“I practically ran inside and hit the send button.
“You go through a series of checks before you report it and it kept passing all these checks, and I thought, ‘It can’t be’.”
Just days after sending his discovery report, he received a central bureau electronic telegram, confirming his discovery to be legitimate.
Zachary West, one of the founding members of the Bright Astronomy Club and now president, was ecstatic to hear Mr Kaufman’s news.
“The club’s been around for about 15 years and Rob’s discovery has never happened – but he has almost found a comet,” he said.
“We support him in his endeavours by allowing him to use our resources.”
Mr West said the club had 15 active people involved and said new members were always welcome.
“We meet once a month at the Porepunkah airfield and hold observing nights for the public,” he said.
“We’re always on the lookout for new people to join the group.”
Contrary to popular belief, Mr Kaufman didn't have the opportunity to name the nova.
It’s why he’s still hoping to discover a comet, which, bearing his surname, would have a nice ring to it.