NGC 6946 is known as the Fireworks Galaxy because in the last 100 years alone it has been home to 10 observed stellar explosions known as supernovae. If ever there were a galaxy that deserved to be known for its stellar fireworks, this is it!
Our own Milky Way galaxy, for example, averages about 1 known supernova every century.
The Fireworks Galaxy is a perfect example of a galaxy positioned relative to Earth so we can see it face-on, unlike edge-on galaxies such as the Needle Galaxy, for example.
Images of the Fireworks Galaxy reveal bright blue pockets of newly formed stars within the distinct spiral arms, and a luminous galactic core.
NGC 6946 The Fireworks Galaxy by Terry Hancock, Fremont, Michigan, USA. Equipment: Astro-Tech AT10RC, QHY9M CCD
The Fireworks Galaxy is an intermediate spiral galaxy and is also known as a ‘starburst galaxy’, due to its high rate of star formation.
The galaxy is located about 25 million lightyears away from us and can be seen on the border of the Cepheus and Cygnus constellations.
It is number 8 on our pick of the top deep-sky objects listed in the Caldwell Catalogue created by Patrick Moore.
Below is a selection of images of the Fireworks Galaxy captured by astrophotographers and BBC Sky at Night Magazine readers from around the world.
For more on astrophotography, read our astrophotography guides or learn how to fine-tune your astro images with our tutorial on image processing.
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NGC6946 and NGC6939 Widefield by Álvaro Ibáñez Pérez, Las Inviernas, Madrid, Spain. Equipment: TS115 Triplet APO, NEQ6 Pro II Tuning Belts, Atik 460ex Mono with Baader LRGB filters, Guider setup: Lunatico EZG-60 + SXLodestar, Robofocus
C12 Fireworks Galaxy by Mark Griffith, Swindon, Wiltshire, UK. Equipment: Teleskop service 12″ Richey-Chretien telescope, Skywatcher EQ8 mount,Atik 383L+ camera, Astronomik LRGB filters, Hutech IDAS light pollution filter, Astro physics 0.67 reducer.
The Fireworks Galaxy by Jaspal Chadha, London, UK. Equipment: Skywatcher Espirt 100ed telescope, Qsi 690 ccd.
The Fireworks Galaxy Chris Grimmer, Norwich, UK. Equipment: WIlliam Optics GT81, SXVR H694 mono, Astrondon LRGB filters, Ioptron CEM60
The Fireworks Galaxy NGC6946 and Open Cluster NGC6939 by Terry Hancock, Fremont, Michigan, USA. Equipment: TMB130SS 5″ refractor, modified Canon 450D, Astro-Tech AT10RC, QHY9M CCD.
Fireworks Galaxy and companion by José J. Chambó, Hoya Redonda, Valencia, Spain. Equipment: GSO 8″ f/3.8, Canon EOS-100D.
The Fireworks Galaxy by John Cave, Huyton, Merseyside, UK. Equipment: John Moore’s 2m Telescope – La Palma.
NGC 6946 mit Supernova by Mario Richter, Finsterwalde, Germany. Equipment: Takahashi STA 102/816 mit Reducer Tak FS TAO 612mm, Sky Watcher EQ6 Sky Scan, AMP Image Master, Canon 60d mod, IDAS LPS D1 Filter.
The unstoppable Fireworks Galaxy and the supernova SN 2017eaw by Lionel Majzik, Tápióbicske, Pest, Hungary. Equipment: Nikon D3300, Sky-Watcher 150/750 mm Newtonian telescope.