Today in the Middle Ages: April 30, 1006

The brightest supernova seen in historical times appeared on April 30, 1006.

European, Arab, Japanese and Chinese astronomers recorded observations of the star. From their accounts, it appears that the star was for a time visible during the day and was one-fourth to one-half as bright as the moon at night. One writer tells of people reading manuscripts by its light. While most feared the nova as a sign of disaster, Chinese court astronomers told their Emperor it was auspicious.

The medieval observations were sufficiently accurate to allow modern astronomers to positively identify the star. It is listed as SN1006 and appears in the constellation Lupus.