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NGC 6946 - Fireworks Galaxy

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NGC 6946 and Supernova 2017eaw from H2O - May 20, 2017

It had been almost two years since I was able to go observing, but when I heard of a new supernova in a galaxy I had imaged in 2008, I felt it was an opportunity I couldn't let pass in spite of being ill prepared, so I headed to Hidden Hill Observatory on May 20, 2017 to try and image NGC 6946 and supernova 2017 eaw. It also happened to be an open house evening at H2O, so there were many other enthusiastic observers that evening. In fact the highlight of the evening for me was being able to not only image the supernova, but to also view it visually thanks to the views offered by Ken Sperber through his scope. That was nothing short of spectacular!

Below are the results of my effort. The supernova is marked in the image. Keep in mind that all the stars visible in the image are stars in our own galaxy. They just happen to be in our line of sight when looking towards NGC 6946. Since they are in our own galaxy, and given the direction of NGC 6946 from our location in our galaxy, those stars are likely no more than a few tens or hundreds of light years away. On the other hand NGC 6946 is roughly 22 million light years away. Because of its great distance, no stars are actually visible to us in that galaxy... except the supernova itself, which is testament to the incredible brightness of a supernova.

Links to additional information are provided at right, and further below is an animation showing the image I had taken in 2008 compared with the new image from 2017.

NGC 6946, 2017, small

Animation 2008/2017

NGC 2946 Animation