A 'new star' could appear in the sky any night now. Here's how to see the Blaze Star ignite. (2024)

A 'new star' could appear in the sky any night now. Here's how to see the Blaze Star ignite. (1)

A dim star in the night sky 3,000 light-years from our solar system could soon become visible to the naked eye for the first time since 1946 — and you can easily find it in the night sky.

The "Blaze Star" — officially called T Coronae Borealis (T CrB) — is expected to brighten significantly between now and September 2024 from magnitude +10 (beyond naked-eye visibility) to magnitude +2, according to NASA. That's about the same brightness as Polaris, the North Star, the 48th-brightest star in the night sky. (In astronomy, the brighter an object is, the lower its magnitude; the full moon's magnitude is -12.6, for example).

The Blaze Star can be found in the constellation Corona Borealis, the "Northern Crown," between the constellations of Boötes and Hercules. The easiest way of finding Corona Borealis is by first locating some of the brightest stars in the summer night sky.

On any clear night, find the stars of the Big Dipper high in the northern sky. Trace the Big Dipper's handle of stars in a curve to Arcturus, a bright, reddish star above the eastern horizon. That's the famous "arc to Arcturus" star-hop. Rising in the east-northeast will be Vega. Now look between Arcturus and Vega (slightly closer to Arcturus) for a faint curl of seven stars — Corona Borealis. It will be high overhead after dark. Though you won’t be able to see the Blaze Star yet, it should become clearly visible before summer’s end.

Related: Auroras could paint Earth's skies again in early June. Here are the key nights to watch for.

The Blaze Star is a rare example of a recurrent nova, which means "new star" in Latin. It's a binary star system with a cool, red giant star and a smaller, hotter white dwarf star orbiting each other. Every 80 years, the red giant propels matter onto the surface of the white dwarf, causing an explosion. Other stars do something similar, but not on such a short timescale.


Solar storm from 1977 reveals how unprepared we are for the next 'big one'

Could a solar storm ever destroy Earth?

15 signs the sun is gearing up for its explosive peak — the solar maximum

Astronomers think the Blaze Star is on the cusp of exploding again because it's following the same pattern as the last two explosions in 1866 and 1946. Ten years before both explosions, it got somewhat brighter, then finally dimmed again just before the big blast. That's precisely what's been happening, with the star growing brighter since 2015, followed by a visible dimming in March 2023. This familiar pattern suggests that another explosion is imminent.

Sign up for the Live Science daily newsletter now

Get the world’s most fascinating discoveries delivered straight to your inbox.

On February 10, 1946, the Blaze Star was 600 times brighter than it was just one week before. Once its brightness peaks, the Blaze Star should be visible to the naked eye for several days and just over a week with a pair of stargazing binoculars or a good small telescope.

Jamie Carter

Live Science contributor

Jamie Carter is a freelance journalist and regular Live Science contributor based in Cardiff, U.K. He is the author of A Stargazing Program For Beginners and lectures on astronomy and the natural world. Jamie regularly writes for Space.com, TechRadar.com, Forbes Science, BBC Wildlife magazine and Scientific American, and many others. He edits WhenIsTheNextEclipse.com.

More about astronomy

Three bright stars mark the beginning of summer. Here's how to spot the 'Summer Triangle' this week.The sun's magnetic field is about to flip. Here's what to expect.


Strawberry Moon 2024: See summer's first full moon rise a day after solstice
See more latest►

Most Popular
Does gum really take 7 years to digest?
Earth from space: Trio of ringed ice caps look otherworldly on Russian Arctic islands
Scientists inserted a window in a man's skull to read his brain with ultrasound
Space photo of the week: 'Earthrise,' the Christmas Eve image that changed the world
Have days on Earth always been 24 hours?
Solar storm slams Mars in eerie new NASA footage
Skeletons of Incan kids buried 500 years ago found marred with smallpox
Qinling panda: The shrunken pandas that diverged 300,000 years ago and sometimes come out brown
Gilgamesh flood tablet: A 2,600-year-old text that's eerily similar to the story of Noah's Ark
Why does the sun make people sneeze?
Melatonin may stave off age-related vision loss, study hints
A 'new star' could appear in the sky any night now. Here's how to see the Blaze Star ignite. (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Msgr. Benton Quitzon

Last Updated:

Views: 6172

Rating: 4.2 / 5 (63 voted)

Reviews: 94% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Msgr. Benton Quitzon

Birthday: 2001-08-13

Address: 96487 Kris Cliff, Teresiafurt, WI 95201

Phone: +9418513585781

Job: Senior Designer

Hobby: Calligraphy, Rowing, Vacation, Geocaching, Web surfing, Electronics, Electronics

Introduction: My name is Msgr. Benton Quitzon, I am a comfortable, charming, thankful, happy, adventurous, handsome, precious person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.