NGC 6946 - Spiral Galaxy in Cygnus


Copyright 2010 Hap Griffin

Also known as the "Fireworks Galaxy", NGC 6946 is a face-on spiral galaxy in the constellation of Cygnus.  Lying almost in the plane of our own galaxy, it is highly obscured with nearby interstellar material making it difficult to photograph clearly.   The bluish patch to the right of the galaxy's center is a peculiar cluster of bright, young star clusters almost 2000 light years in diameter that were not documented until 1967.  This relatively recent discovery of such an object that is obvious in modern amateur astrophotography may be a good indicator of the strides made in the last decade in off-the-shelf CCD cameras and telescopes. 

NGC6946 lies at a distance of 22 million light years.


Date/Location:    October 2, 2010     Griffin/Hunter Observatory    Bethune, SC
Camera: QSI 583wsg
Filters: Astrodon E Series Generation 2 LRGB
CCD Temperature: -10 C
Instrument:    Planewave 12.5" CDK
Focal Ratio:   f/8
Mount: AP-1200
Guiding:    Auto via the QSI camera's built in Off-Axis Guider mirror and an SBIG ST-402 Guider
Conditions:    Cool and clear
Weather:    65 - 55 F, still
Exposure: 280 minutes total (10 x 10 min Luminance, 6 x 10 min each in RGB)
Capture: CCDAutopilot 4 w/ Maxim DL Camera Control, focused automatically w/ FocusMax   
Processing:    Frame calibrations, alignment and stacking with ImagesPlus v3.80.  Finishing in Photoshop CS4.