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The anomalously bright supernova SN2006gy was discovered by the University of Texas graduate student, Robert Quimby, using the ROTSE-IIIb telescope at McDonald Observatory at Fort Davis, Texas. As a host of a ROTSE-III telescope, the University of Texas can use up to 30% of the available viewing time to pursue whatever research projects they desire and Quimby with his thesis advisor, J. Craig Wheeler chose to look for nearby supernovae in order to understand better the dynamics of the explosion process. During a period of about 2 years, Quimby has found 30 SNe of which two others looked comparably bright. This work is expected to continue with all four ROTSE-III telescopes dedicated to finding supernovae when not observing gamma-ray bursts. All of us are mystified why ROTSE appears to be unusually effective in finding such events.
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Click here to find more information about ROTSE.