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I was looking over the north-eastern skyline from a west coast location and notice something very bright for well over about 10 or 15 seconds, and then it faded completely. I didn't notice it before and I don't own any equipment that can see that far away but it looked like a star got really bright and then pulled into itself. Is it possible that I just watched a star go super-nova?

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    $\begingroup$ Which west coast? Here in Europe there were several reportings yesterday of a bright flare which apparently was the fuel particles of a Falcon 9 launched from California. $\endgroup$
    – pela
    Aug 15 at 14:34
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    $\begingroup$ I find it amusing that, even in the context of discussing our galaxy, we tend to forget there are other countries in our own planet. $\endgroup$ Aug 16 at 17:22
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    $\begingroup$ @mgarciaisaia I always know it's a USA citizen; no-one else does that online. $\endgroup$
    – iono
    Aug 17 at 7:35
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    $\begingroup$ I just couldn't resist the joke: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firefly $\endgroup$
    – Dominique
    Aug 17 at 7:36
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    $\begingroup$ Have you suddenly gained huge amounts of intelligence, maybe some telekinesis? You might have an astrocytoma brain tumour. Quite a Phenomenon. $\endgroup$
    – freedomn-m
    Aug 17 at 13:13

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No. You likely saw a plane's landing lights, a satellite flare or a shooting star (at least something in the atmosphere or low earth orbit).

Two main reasons:

  • A supernova lasts for weeks with only gradually decreasing brightness.
  • Stars are so tiny that they don't have any visual spatial extent, even as supernova. See also this question on stellar radii.
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    $\begingroup$ Also any visible star going supernovae would be world news. So if you don't see it on your local news sources, it wasn't a supernovae. $\endgroup$
    – Rob
    Aug 15 at 10:26
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    $\begingroup$ @Rob. Someone had to see it first for it to get to the news $\endgroup$ Aug 16 at 22:21
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    $\begingroup$ @MadPhysicist That someone would be scientists who are scanning for events like this, not just some guy. $\endgroup$ Aug 17 at 11:01
  • $\begingroup$ @TomášZato-ReinstateMonica not necessarily: "some guy" has been the first to discover a supernovae before: cloudynights.com/topic/417575-discovered-a-supernova-last-night & youtube.com/watch?v=QmyjEI34BQA $\endgroup$
    – Aaron F
    Aug 22 at 12:12
  • $\begingroup$ Before the advent of automated searches in about the mid-ninety's, almost all the supernovae were discovered by amateurs. It was sort of a sport. (in which I participated.) Total numbers were about a dozen per year. $\endgroup$
    – D. Halsey
    Nov 4 at 23:28

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