On January 22, 2014, a Type Ia supernova was discovered shining bright from within the Cigar Galaxy (also known as NGC 3034, or M82). M82 is about 11 to 12 million light-years away in the constellation Ursa Major (the Big Dipper). Observers reported it to initially be about magnitude 11.5. See sky map here to locate M82.
Astronomers Telegram is reporting its preliminary analysis and classifying it as “a young, reddened Type Ia Supernova” with a designation of PSN (Preliminary Supernova) J09554214+6940260. Once confirmed, it will receive a new name.
UPDATE 1/24/2014: Supernova has been confirmed it is now called Supernova 2014J.
Sky and Telescope is reporting that Italian observer Gianluca Masi plans an online supernova-viewing event with his Virtual Telescope Project on Saturday, January 25th, at 20:30 Universal Time (2:30 p.m. CST).
UPDATE 1/27/2014: If you missed the live event, a replay of the supernova viewing event on Virtual Telescope Project is now available here.
The Supernova was discovered by a group of astronomy students from the University of London Observatory. The full university press release can be found here.
How to find it:
For observers at mid-northern latitudes, M82 is well up in the northeast by 7 or 8 p.m. The evening sky should be free of moonlight until around February 2nd or 3rd. Tentative predictions say that its magnitude will peak to about 10.5 around February 2nd.
Additional information and photos can be found here: