I believe that the correct scientific technical term for this is, “Wow” … its solid proof that cutting-edge science need not be exclusive to the silver haired set, its for all, or at least anybody curious enough to go and look.
The supernova was discovered in the galaxy UGC 3378, about 240 million light years away, in the constellation of Camelopardalis. Such discoveries are made by comparing old images of star fields with newer ones, and so Kathryn was doing just this with images taken at an amateur observatory which had been sent to her father. As described by her dad, “Kathryn pointed to the screen and said: ‘Is this one?‘ I said “yup, that looks pretty good,“. He then took steps to rule out asteroids and also checked the list of currently known supernovas.
Once the claim was in, it was verified by independent astronomers, and then officially registered, said the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) in a statement (click here to download their press release).
You can read more about this on the BBC here, and also watch a BBC video interview with her as well.