IC 342 was discovered in 1895 by W.F. Denning. Edwin P. Hubble suspected it as a member of the Local Group, but later observations showed that it is at a distance of at least about 6, perhaps more probably 10 million light-years.
IC 342 lies at low galactic latitude, only 10.5 degrees from the Galactic Equator, or the Milky Way's disc plane. Therefore, it is heavily obscured by interstellar matter of the Milky Way; recent estimates give an extinction of about 2.4 magnitudes; without this extinction, this galaxy would be among the brightest in the sky, and certainly have been discovered much earlier.
IC 342 forms a group with some large and many dwarf galaxies, the so-called Maffei 1 group, or IC 342 group, or somtimes called IC 342/Maffei group. It is one of two dominating members of that group, the other being elliptical galaxy Maffei 1, which is even more obscurred and was thus only discovered in 1968.
The image in this page was obtained by Martin Germano with his 14.5-inch Newtonian from Southern California.