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BAA Journal 2013 October

The 'astronomizings' of Dr Anderson and the curious case of his disappearing nova

Journal issue: 2013 October
Pages: 270–279

Dr Thomas David Anderson (1853-1932) was a Scottish amateur astronomer best known for his discovery of two bright novae: Nova Aurigae 1891 and Nova Persei 1901. He also discovered more than 50 variable stars as well as making independent discoveries of Nova Aquilae 1918 and comet 17P/Holmes in 1892. At the age of seventy, in 1923, he reported his discovery of a further nova, this time in Cygnus. This was set to be the culmination of a lifetime devoted to scanning the night sky, but unfortunately no one was able to confirm it. This paper discusses Anderson’s life leading up to the discovery and considers whether the object was likely to have been real or illusory.