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Hunting for NGC 6946

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#1 SStoffer

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Posted 28 June 2020 - 11:23 AM

Been trying to see the Fireworks galaxy (NGC 6946) last night but no luck. Even with the moon setting it was not possible. I was using a 12 inch LightBridge, but I fear I need to go

 

bigger. I am determined to see this galaxy. My attempts ended when heavy dew covered my secondary mirror. Is a 12 inch really enough to bring this thing in? I am going to still keep

 

trying. 

 

 

I would appreciate any comments on viewing this galaxy. 

 

 

 

-Stephen 



#2 Waddensky

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Posted 28 June 2020 - 11:45 AM

Shouldn't be that difficult with a 12", but it of course depends on the darkness of your observing location. Here's a report from an observation with a 6" scope.



#3 havasman

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Posted 28 June 2020 - 01:47 PM

First, NGC6946 is one of the finest galaxies in the northern sky and a BIG favorite of mine. I encourage you to keep trying.

 

You have plenty of aperture. How are your conditions? A dark sky is extremely helpful for these ~low surface brightness face-on galaxies. Though mV8.8 sounds like a bright object, the large size of NGC6946 yields surface brightness m13.8 and that is a better indicator of what difficulty one may have finding it and how it may appear in the eyepiece. Have you tried observing NGC6939, the open cluster @ 40' NW just across the border in Cepheus and placed in a very similar star field, similarly obscured by Milky Way dust? It is like-sized and slightly brighter with slightly higher surface brightness. It's a good starting point. Sometimes they can look surprisingly similar. As for most galaxies, you want to look first for the brighter core of NGC6946 and then you can start to piece together the halo that can be resolved into arms and can show quite bright H-II regions. From a dark site, experienced observers report easily seeing via 13" Dobs the eastern arm and its forked nature as well as the bright H-II region SW of the core. I 1st saw this one via unmodified XT10i from the club's SE Oklahoma dark site. The importance of dark sky conditions is paramount. It is completely invisible from my white zone home site.

 

Once you find this one, the fun begins. NGC6946 is an object that can reward more experimentation than many galaxies. Try higher mag to see if more detail presents. Try a filter (I use narrowband O-III here) to see if H-II regions present, perhaps in places you did not notice them w/o filter. And it's only a matter of who's alive and looking to see the next in a long series of supernovae this baby produces that gave it its name.

 

Good luck with your observations.


Edited by havasman, 28 June 2020 - 07:33 PM.

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#4 Pcbessa

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Posted 28 June 2020 - 02:54 PM

The galaxy is like a fainter and smaller version of M101. If you canĀ“t see M101 easily from your spot (with its arms), then consider going to a darker spot.

When I see the faint but easy arms of M101, I see the Fireworks galaxy as a faint mottled fuzzy patch.

The galaxy requires very dark skies to see any detail and look good enough. Its quite low surface brightness.



#5 The Ardent

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Posted 28 June 2020 - 03:10 PM

What star atlas are you using?

Been trying to see the Fireworks galaxy (NGC 6946) last night but no luck. Even with the moon setting it was not possible. I was using a 12 inch LightBridge, but I fear I need to go

bigger. I am determined to see this galaxy. My attempts ended when heavy dew covered my secondary mirror. Is a 12 inch really enough to bring this thing in? I am going to still keep

trying.


I would appreciate any comments on viewing this galaxy.



-Stephen



#6 NYJohn S

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Posted 28 June 2020 - 05:19 PM

I haven't been able to see NGC 6946 or NGC6939 from my Bortle 5 home with my 8". I'll have to try from my dark site. From there M101 is easy so maybe I have a shot at them.


Edited by NYJohn S, 28 June 2020 - 05:19 PM.


#7 Keith Rivich

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Posted 29 June 2020 - 06:20 PM

From my Bortle 3 skies I can just make out this galaxy in my 4" finder. Its stunning in the 25"...


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#8 kfiscus

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Posted 29 June 2020 - 10:37 PM

The galaxy is one of my favorites, especially since it makes such a beautiful mixed-double with cluster 6939.  I usually observe it with my 12".  That part of the sky is challenging to star hop in (for me).


Edited by kfiscus, 29 June 2020 - 10:42 PM.

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#9 Redbetter

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 12:09 AM

Most likely the sky is either a bit bright, or the original poster is getting turned around somewhere in the star hop or looking in the wrong part of the field.  I find hops that far north to be more confusing.    Being a face on, its overall surface brightness is a modest ~22.7 MPSAS based on Uranometria's DSFG.  The core is brighter than that of course, but the rest of the galaxy can be washed out easily if the sky is not reasonably dark.

 

Back when it had the SN 2017eaw, I observed the galaxy and the SN using a 110ED.  My notes say the galaxy was visible in a 9x50 finder as well.  This was under ~21.6 MPSAS conditions.  The SN topped out at 12.6 mag, bright enough that it would have been visible in my 60mm scope, but I didn't have it yet.   



#10 chrysalis

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 09:24 AM

NGC6946 is accessible but fairly dim from my Bortle 5 skies on good nights. Some nights it is invisible.



#11 Jack Day

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Posted 01 July 2020 - 01:45 PM

The galaxy is one of my favorites, especially since it makes such a beautiful mixed-double with cluster 6939.  I usually observe it with my 12".  That part of the sky is challenging to star hop in (for me).

My thoughts exactly!  I have observed these with 8" scopes to 18" scopes.  Always a treat!




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