NGC 6368 in Ophiuchus

July 2024 - Galaxy of the Month

This interactive image of the NGC 6368 in Ophiuchus was provided by the Pan-STARRS1 Surveys using Aladin Sky Atlas. We also have a finder chart should help you locate this galaxy, as will this link for NGC 6368 on the Stellarium Web planetarium.

I apologise that the GOM is going to be rather short this month as there is a shortage of galaxies in the twilit summer skies. Our challenge this month may also be tricky on account of its faintness.

The galaxy NGC 6368 in Ophiuchus was missed by William Herschel and was discovered in 1863 by Albert Marth using William Lassell’s 48” speculum metal mirror telescope in Malta. Marth was a prolific observer of faint nebulae and discovered 583 new objects that made it into the NGC, along with one that made it into the IC.

As an aside many years ago Alan Dowdell wrote a paper in the Webb Quarterly Journal about Marth’s observations, and at that time it was very difficult to get access to the original paper whereas now it is freely downloadable.

NGC 6368 itself appears to be a nearly edge on spiral galaxy of type Sb lying at a distance of perhaps 32 Mpc. NGC 6368 appears to be an isolated field galaxy and as far as I can see not much research has been done on it. SIMBAD suggests that it may be a candidate for having an AGN. There are also suggestions that it may be part of an outlying galaxy filament of the Virgo cluster. NGC 6368 is a relatively small galaxy with a calculated diameter of only 49,000 light-years.

NGC 6368 lies very near the border with Hercules so it does rise pretty high as seen from the UK, this may help when observing it. I note that it can be seen from the UK with 40cm but is not described as terribly impressive, although it is not clear under what circumstances that observation was made. My suspicion is that probably only the central part of the galaxy was seen. Perhaps unsurprisingly NGC 6368 does not feature in any of the standard observation guides so any observations of it are of interest.

Owen Brazell - Galaxy Section Director

If you'd like to try out the Clear Skies Observing Guides (CSOG), you can download observing guide for the current Galaxy of the Month without the need to register. CSOG are not associated with the Webb Deep-Sky Society but the work of Victor van Wulfen.