Any list of great amateur astronomy challenge catalogues would certainly include the galaxy group "Hickson" list of our contemporary, Professor Paul Hickson (University of British Columbia). His 1994 publication Atlas Of Compact Groups Of Galaxies, resulted in a list of 100, ranging from easy "eye candy" groups to extreme challenges. Let's explore one this month, Hickson 15, and follow expert observer Steve Gottlieb's notes in tracking down these six dim, related galaxies. Here is a finder chart showing Menkar (Alpha Ceti) and Alpha Piscium, from which Hickson 15 is an easy star hop.
|HICKSON||NAME||SIZE (M)||MAG (V)||SB|
"Five of the six members of Hickson 15 were visible at 280x. The "A" component was faint, elongated 3:2 NW-SE, 35"x25", weak concentration. Forms the N vertex of a triangle with two mag 13 stars 1.2' S and 1.8' SSW. Hickson 15B lies 5.7' SW and appeared faint, round, 30" diameter, weak even concentration to a faint, nearly stellar nucleus. Interestingly, the "C" component was probably the brightest of five viewed although this object was still a faint, small spot of 40" diameter. Hickson 15D was a difficult object appearing extremely faint, round, 20" diameter and situated 25" SE of a mag 14.5-15 star. This was the faintest of five viewed and it lies 1.9' NNW of Hickson 15c (brightest component?). The final member, 15E, was very faint, round, 20" diameter and the second faintest in the quintet. Located 1.0' NE of a mag 13.5 star."
- Steve Gottlieb