Inside the Story: Meet Utah's 'Mr. Supernova,' amateur astronomer Patrick Wiggins

Inside the Story: Meet 'Mr. Supernova,' amateur astronomer Patrick Wiggins (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) There is an amazing astronomical discovery coming from the small town of Stansbury Park, Utah.

But this is not a first for the so-called amateur astronomer Patrick Wiggins.

This was his third supernova discovery to go along with several minor planets he's also found.

Making such a discovery requires thousands of hours of stargazing with massive telescopes at the Stansbury Park Observatory Complex.

"I will admit most people, when they hear what's involved, they are going to go, 'He's crazy,'" Wiggins said.

His tedious work starts when the sun goes down night after night, and the stars begin to light up the night sky.

And in the wee hours of Mother's Day this year, Wiggins found his third supernova, which is the aftermath of a massive star explosion. It started as just a noise on his telescope.

"It was 22 million light years away, which if you think about it another way, that means that it actually happened 22 million years ago and the light from the detonation has been traveling through space before humans were humans," Wiggins said.

It took him a couple of hours to confirm his find, but soon astronomers across the globe were checking out his latest discovery.

"Professional telescopes literally around the world were swerving over to look at what little old me and little Stansbury Park, Utah had found," Wiggins said. "It's an ego rush, I'll admit."

Discovering his third supernova literally took thousands of hours of stargazing.

"For 1,051 nights of looking, I have three supernovas," laughed Wiggins.

Wiggins admits he has no life, but says his work is worth it "because I am contributing to the body of scientific knowledge. It's not for money, it's not for fame."

Stansbury Park Observatory will soon house the largest amateur telescope in the world. It is the size of a school bus, and its lenses will be nearly six feet tall.

It will be dedicated this Saturday at the Stansbury Park Observatory Complex.

For more information, visit the Observatory's website.