The Best and Brightest Hickson Compact Groups of Galaxies

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Following are my notes and RealSky images of nineteen of what I consider to be the best and brightest of the Hickson's.  Hopefully these are visible in amateur instruments of more modest aperture than my beloved 17.5 inch reflector.  If you have any notes on these (or other) Hickson's through ten or twelve inch (or smaller) instruments, let me know!

All observations made with my 17.5" f/4.5 reflector using a 9mm Nagler eyepiece (222x; 22 arc-minute field of view), unless otherwise noted.

The images--and their scale--by the way, are composed for aesthetic reasons, in other words: they are not designed to be used as eyepiece finder fields, as the orientation and scale vary widely.


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HICKSON 40 (Arp 321)(9:38, -4.51): Nice "clumpy" group. Three distinctly seen with 4.8 Nagler (417x) Glimpsed edge-on structure of C. The POSS plates show a beautiful "zig-zaggy" group of elipticals and edge-ons... One of my finder booklets (which I made) has a photo of this beautiful cluster on the cover. Mag. 13.4

HICKSON 44 (Ngc 3190, Arp 316): At 11.5 mag, the brightest of all Hickson's, and a real treat! All four seen; barely fit in my 9 Nagler FOV (22min). An easy star hop in the middle of the "neck" of Leo.
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HICKSON 55: Very faint "clump", not on the meridian this time of year (summer), but easily starhopped to with the aid of a bright edge-on galaxy (NGC 3735) just one 9-Nag field SE. Use averted vision.

(A special note: this one may not be visible in smaller scopes--it just takes such a beautiful photo, I had to include it here among the "best and brightest").

HICKSON 56 (Arp 322) (11 32, +70.49) One of my favorites. Seen before in July 96, but no notes taken. Just off the edge of the magnificent foreground barred spiral Ngc 3718, which dwarfs this cluster--nice perspective! Anyway, the real challenge is to see A; a detached member of this group, and an edge-on gal, to boot. Bagged it (A) but only with averted vision. Mag. 14.5

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HICKSON 57 (Copeland's Septet) (11 38; +22) Seven gals seen of approximate same mag; one of the seven seen was technically not part of the group. Very nice. Mag. 14.0
HICKSON 61 (The Box) (Ngc 4169) (12 12, +29.11) One of the best viewed so far! You've got three edge-ons (two in a line, one a right angle to the others) and a spiral on the other "corner." Mag.12.6

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hick68.gif (13252 bytes) HICKSON 68 (Ngc 5353) (13:53 +40 19)  Excellent group! All five visible. Mag.11.8
HICKSON 79 (Seyfert's Sextet) (Ngc 6027) (15 59; +20 45) Actually started the evening (June '98) with this one. Clumpy, fairly bright group. Very difficult to bust apart, however: no luck with a 7mm Nagler, for example. Looked like two irregular gals joined at the hip. Photo shows very tight group. Mag. 13.8 hick79.gif (2565 bytes)

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HICKSON 88(20:52 -05 45): Easy star-hop. Excellent group! Some detail in "B" seen (clumpy, barred spiral?). Three seen; did not see "D"; Steve (Gottlieb) did, however.
HICKSON 90(22:02 -31 56): Excellent, bright group (nice after 89 skunked me). All four easily seen. Quite south. hick90.gif (14532 bytes)

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HICKSON 91(22:09 -27 46): "A" bright, "C" averted, "B" not seen--went behind tree! ...try later/another night.

HICKSON 92(22:36 +33 57): Stephan's Quintet. Nice group to end a late July evening with. Not as bright, or as big as I remembered it though; especially compared to Hickson 90. 7331 and companions looked nice too.

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HICKSON 93 (23 15 23.3; +18 58 57): All 5 seen! Nice, well-spaced group. A, B, C, quite easy; D, E, quite difficult.
HICKSON 94 (23 17 16.2; +18 43 13): Very nice COMPACT group. Small galaxies, but bright--used 4.8 Nag (417x) At least 4 seen. Stellar-like cores? hick94.gif (19113 bytes)

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HICKSON 95 (23 19 31.3; +09 29 57): Large (well, relatively), diffuse glow with "clumpy" material. 3 galaxies; "D" not seen. A and C merge; hard to pick apart.
HICKSON 96 (23 28 1.1; +08 46 27): Nice pair... but then "A" looks a little irregular, kind of like a mini M51, with attached companion galaxy ("C"). A, B, C seen.

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HICKSON 97 (23 47 27.8; -02 18 51): Another nice group! "A" and "C" obvious; "B" elongated, averted vision. "D" has foreground star "attached," galaxy extends to N/E.
HICKSON 98 (23 54 11.4; +00 22 20); Looks like one elongated, smaller version of M82... Irregular patches of light. Nice little "hook" at S/E end ("B"). Mistook 17th mag? star for "C"; Steve corrected me a few minutes later with a peek through his 17.5, when both star and galaxy could be picked off--with difficulty, of course.

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HICKSON 99 (00 00 42.8; +28 23 27): Nice. "B" first seen; "A" has foreground star; "C" separated pair (with time) from "B."


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