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PC-Sky Scenario: Crab Supernova of 1054 AD

Imagine waking just before dawn and being greeted by a brilliant new star only a few degrees from the moon! This "guest star" was so bright as to be clearly visible even in daylight.

This following account, dated July 4, 1054 AD, describes a star that suddenly appeared near Zeta Tauri. "In the 1st year of the period Chih-ho, the 5th moon, the day chi-ch'ou, a guest star appeared... After more than a year it gradually became invisible..." Similar accounts have been found in other historical Chinese writings, and pictographs found in the American southwest may also depict the supernova.

Today, the Crab Nebula appears in the sky as an oval, hazy patch that became the first entry in the catalog of such objects by the comet hunter Messier (M1). He kept this catalog so that he would not confuse nebulae with the comets he was looking for. Only long exxposure photographs reveal the intricate details that gave this nebula it name. Modern observations also reveal the Crab to be an expanding cloud of glowing gas. If we extrapolate the expansion backward in time we find that it must have begun explosively around 900 years ago. Could this be the remains of a supernova?

It seems clear that the Crab nebula we see at this location is the remains of the supernova of 1054 AD. Use the scenario below to see how the supernova appeared that year. To find the modern Crab nebula set the date/time for a January evening, erase the user file name, and find "crab". 


Scenario: Crab Supernova
Location: Yosemite Park
Longitude: 119:30
Latitude: 31:50
Time Zone: PST
Date: July 5, 1054
Time: 4:00
Setting: Desert/Mountain
Precession: Rigorous
User File Name: crabsn.dat (supplied with PC-Sky)