NGC 6217

Alt. Designations: ARP 185
Object Type: barred spiral galaxy
Constellation: Ursa Minor
Distance: 80 mly
Right Ascension: 16h 32m 38.7s
Declination: +78° 11´ 57"
Visual Magnitude: 11
Apparent Dimension: 3.0´ X 2.5´
Best Month To View: May

NGC 6217 is relatively close by, at a distance of roughly 80 million light years (note that some early press said it was 6 million light years away, which is incorrect). The gas and stars in the middle form an exquisite rectangular bar across the core due to complicated gravitational interactions, and you can easily pick out huge numbers of glowing pink star forming areas, where stars are being born in prodigious quantities. And even from this vast distance — 800 quintillion kilometers (500 quintillion miles) — Hubble can still pick out individual stars in the spiral arms. These are the biggest, baddest, and brightest ones, the stars that will someday explode as monstrous supernovae… and you can rest assured astronomers will be using Hubble or its successors to observe them when they do.