On February 23, 1987, astronomer lan Shelton, working at an observatory atop a mountain in Chile, was going through some photographs he had taken of the Large Magellanic Cloud, the nearest galaxy to our own. Suddenly he saw an unusually bright star in one of the photographs. He had never seen it before. He concluded that it was supernova - an exploding star.
The Large Magellanic Cloud can be seen without a telescope. Shelton and his colleagues went out to look at the dying star. They could see it, as could other astronomers in many other parts of the world. It was the first time in almost 400 years that supernova had been observed with the naked eye. The last time a supernova had been seen without a telescope was in 1604 when the German astronomer, Johann Kepler had viewed one.
The star had been a massive one. It had exploded 1,70,000 years ago and it had taken that long for the light to reach us.
Since Lan Shelton was the first to observe it and understand its significance, it was named the Shelton Supernova.