Visual Challenge Object - October 2020

Original article appears in GuideStar October, 2020.

NGC-6946 Spiral Galaxy in Cepheus

by Stephen Jones
UPDATE: The VSIG meets via Zoom and is open to all HAS members. Just email Stephen 
at [email protected] to get on the list so you know time and date.

RA 20h34m52.3s Dec +60deg 09’14”
Size 11.5x9.8’ Vmag 9.6

NGC 6946 is a face-on spiral galaxy roughly 8 megaparsecs from Earth. This places it outside the Local Group of galaxies but within the local Virgo Supercluster. It was discovered by William Herschel in 1798. In recent years the galaxy has been popularly nicknamed the “fireworks galaxy” because more supernovae have been observed in NGC 6946 than in any other galaxy – 10 supernovae in 100 years.

This galaxy is located fairly close to our galactic plane and is obscured from our view somewhat by gas and dust from our galaxy. I first observed 6946 in my 16” about 6 years ago in my second night using that scope. My log read “Faint glow, very low surface brightness. Oval in shape I think; Can sort of get a hint of some spiral structure with averted vision, but hard to make out. Transparency is getting worse.”  I suspect under better conditions I could probably observe more detail but I haven’t gotten a chance lately to re-observe the object recently. What do you see?

The HAS VSIG would love to hear about your own visual observations of NGC 6946. Send them to the VSIG list server.  To get on the VSIG email list server, contact me at [email protected]

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