A Rare Celestial Event Will Create a Temporary Star as Bright as the North Star—Here's How to Spot It

The once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon will be visible to the naked eye, and won't happen again for 80 years.

<p>Artur Debat / Getty Image</p>

Artur Debat / Getty Image

The night sky may temporarily gain a new star soon, thanks to a once-in-a-lifetime event that only occurs about every 80 years, NASA reports. Even more exciting? The celestial phenomenon is expected to be visible to the naked eye for several days.

The star system, which is located 3,000 light-years away from Earth, is typically too dim to see with the unaided eye. But this year, the star will explode, causing it to become brighter than normal—an event known as a "nova outburst." According to NASA, a nova is a sudden, short-lived explosion from a compact star not much larger than earth.

Related: A Once-in-a-Lifetime Comet Is Currently Visible From Earth—Here's the Best Way to See It

T Coronae Borealis, or T CrB last exploded in 1946 and astronomers believe it will do so again anytime between now and September 2024, according to NASA. Once its brightness peaks, it should be visible from earth to the naked eye for several days, and just over a week with binoculars. Astronomers predict that its brightness will be comparable to the North Star.

Also known as the "Blaze Star," T Coronae Borealis is a binary system with a white dwarf and red giant. The stars are close enough that, as the red giant becomes unstable and begins ejecting its outer layers, the white dwarf collects that matter onto its surface. The shallow dense atmosphere of the white dwarf eventually heats enough to cause a reaction that produces the nova we see from earth, NASA reports.

It is difficult to predict exactly when T Coronae Borealis will explode. As you wait for the event to occur, NASA recommends that stargazers become familiar with the constellation Corona Borealis (also known as Northern Crown)—a small, semicircular arc near Bootes and Hercules. This is where the outburst will occur and where stargazers will witness the "new star."

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