Caroline Moore is an American amateur astronomer. On November 7, 2008, at the age of 14, Moore discovered supernova 2008ha in the galaxy UGC 12682 in the constellation Pegasus. At that time, Moore was the youngest person to discover a supernova. This record was broken on December 31, 2010, by the 10 years old amateur astronomer Kathryn Aurora Gray who discovered supernova SN 2010lt.
Moore started her astronomical observations at the age of ten, when her father Robert, an avid astronomer and the co-chair of the NorthEast Astro-Imaging Conference, bought her a telescope. Since then, they built a home observatory in the backyard of their home at Warwick, 60 miles northwest of New York City. The observatory has a retractable roof and three "advanced amateur" level telescopes, such as a 10-inch Newtonian reflector. However, her serious observations were made not with her home telescopes, but at the computer screen. The motivation came at a dinner with family friends in early 2008 where she learned that an 18-year-old astronomer had found a supernova. She then said "I could beat her".
Supernova search team
In April 2008, she joined the Supernova Search team at Puckett Observatory, a private astronomical observatory dedicated to the study of comets and supernovas. The observatory uses four automatic telescopes which digitally record astronomical images. This large amount of raw data is then processed on computers by volunteers, searching for unusual bright spots in the images, which could be supernovas.
After 7 months of browsing through the images, on November 7, 2008, Moore noticed a dim spot in one of the pictures from the UGC 12682 galaxy in the constellation Pegasus. She cross checked possible image artifacts and reported the finding to her team. On November 13, 2008, the International Astronomical Union confirmed the discovery of a supernova in galaxy UGC 12682 by Moore. On November 18 she received a phone call confirming that she had discovered a supernova, and a rather unusual one. Not only it is very faint, some 1,000 times dimmer than a typical supernova and probably the faintest supernova ever seen, but it is also located in a type of galaxy where supernovas are believed to be extremely unlikely. Alex Filippenko, a supernova group leader at the University of California at Berkeley, said on her discovery: "This shows that no matter what your age, anyone can make a significant contribution to our understanding of the universe."
Moore continues looking for supernovas, browsing through 200–400 images a week. On July 3, 2009 Moore discovered another new supernova SN2009he. She is also singing and skiing at school and participating in the Rockland Astronomy Club and The Orange County Astronomical Association. Her example has quickly become motivational for teenagers to join astronomy research. As such, she was chosen by iOptron as an active representative of the International Year of Astronomy 2009.
Since her discovery, Moore has been in the media's attention. On December 30, 2008 she received a Certificate of Recognition from the Town of Warwick and on February 9, 2009 a proclamation at the floor of the New York State Assembly. Her interview was aired on North East Public Radio stations on April 20, 2009 and in June she appeared live on Fox News Channel and on MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show. In February 2009, Moore was awarded iOptron Young Astronomer of the Year for the International Year of Astronomy 2009, by iOptron Corporation of Boston, Massachusetts. iOptron will also donate astronomy equipment to her school in Warwick.
- Youngest person to discover a supernova. Astronomy.com (2009-06-22). Retrieved on 2012-11-29.
- iOptron announces Caroline Moore as the Young Astronomer of the Year. iOptron News (2009-02-06).
- "How Caroline became the youngest person to discover a supernova". deer-pond-observatorie.wetpaint.com.
- "Peculiar, Junior-sized Supernova Discovered By New York Teen". Sciencedaily. June 11, 2009.
- Youtube record of "Caroline Moore On MSNBC". Youtube.com (2009-06-20). Retrieved on 2012-11-29.