Historical Supernovae plugin

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The Historical Supernovae plugin provides visualization of some historical supernovae brighter than 10 magnitude:

  • SN 185A (7 December)
  • SN 386A (24 April)
  • SN 1006A (29 April)
  • SN 1054A (3 July)
  • SN 1181A (4 August)
  • SN 1572A (5 November)
  • SN 1604A (8 October)
  • SN 1680A (15 August)
  • SN 1885A (17 August)
  • SN 1895B (5 July)
  • SN 1937C (21 August)
  • SN 1972E (8 May)
  • SN 1987A (24 February)
  • SN 2011FE (13 September)

Example (Supernova 1604, also known as Kepler's Supernova, Kepler's Nova or Kepler's Star): sn1604wiki.jpg

Using the Historical Supernovae plugin

  1. Enable the tool by clicking the tool-bar button "Load at startup"
  2. Set date and time (29 April 1006 year for SN 1006A as example)

Catalog of historical supernovae

You can modify the supernovae.json file manually using a text editor. If you are using Windows, it is strongly recommended to use an advanced text editor such as Notepad++ to avoid problems with end-of-line characters. (It will also color the JSON code and make it easier to read.)

Warning: Before editing your supernovae.json, make a backup copy. Leaving out the smallest detail (such as a comma or forgetting to close a curly bracket) will prevent Stellarium from starting.

The path to the directory which contains supernovae.json is something like:

  • C:\Users\UserName\AppData\Roaming\Stellarium\modules\Supernovae (Windows Vista, Windows 7)
  • C:\Documents and Settings\UserName\Application Data\Stellarium\modules\Supernovae (Windows XP)
  • HomeDirectory/Library/Preferences/Stellarium/modules/Supernovae (Mac OS X)
  • ~/.stellarium/modules/Supernovae (Linux)

(Note that this is a hidden folder, so in order to find it you may need to change your computer's settings to display hidden files and folders.)

Format of catalog

To add a new supernova, open a new line after line 5 and paste the following, note commas and brackets, they are important:

             "Supernova designation":
                   "type": "type of supernova",
                   "maxMagnitude": value of maximal visual magnitude,
                   "peakJD": JD for maximal visual magnitude,
                   "alpha": "Right ascension (J2000)",
                   "delta": "Declination (J2000)",
                   "distance": value of distance between supernova and Earth (in thousand of Light Years),
                   "note": "notes for supernova"

For example, record for SN 1604A:

                   "type": "I",
                   "maxMagnitude": -2,
                   "peakJD": 2307190,
                   "alpha": "17h30m36.00s",
                   "delta": "-21d29m00.0s",
                   "distance": 14,
                   "note": "Kepler's Supernova"

Light curves

In this plugin implemented simple model of light curves for different supernovae. Typical view of light curve for supernova type I you can see below (right scale in days) and this model used for plugin:


For supernova type II we use typical light curve with plato, which you can see below (right scale in days):


On both images for light curves of maximum brightness marked as day 0.

Version history

Plug-in version Stellarium version Significant changes
0.2.3 0.11.0 First public version of plugin
0.2.7 0.11.1 Added SN2011FE, fixed few bugs, improved info for display
0.2.8 0.11.2 Fixed few bugs
0.2.9 0.11.3 Fixed few bugs (stabilization of code)
0.2.11 0.11.4 Added GUI to plug-in
0.2.12 0.12.0 Use new rendering engine of core
0.2.12 0.12.1


We thank the following people for their contribution and of the valuable comments:

How you can help

We are welcome bug reports, feature requests and feedback through the usual channels (trackers, forums and so on).

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