Observing the Hickson Compact Galaxy groups


In the 1980s, Paul Hickson put together a list of 100 "compact" groups of galaxies for a scientific project. These groups contain at least 4 galaxies, up to 8. Recently, this has become yet another "work-through" list for amateur astronomers. Most of the groups are the exclusive domain of large scopes, especially if you want to see multiple group members. Fortunately, several groups can be seen in their entirety from dark-sky locations with a 6" telescope, and many more have multiple members bright enough to see. A few groups, or portions of groups, are even quite interesting at that aperture!

I'm gradually working my way through some of the brightest groups with my 6" f/8 Newtonian from dark-sky locations. I believe there are nearly 3 dozen groups where I have a good chance of seeing at least one galaxy, and maybe a half-dozen where I have a chance of seeing all members. So far, I have worked on 8 groups, seeing 3 groups in their entirety, and more than one member in all 8. This is certainly not a mainstream project for a 6" scope, but it is working out well so far.


My series of pages on some of the brighter groups, where you will find information and my observing notes where available. Although they contain somewhat different data and my own personal observations, my pages are patterned after similar pages at Jim Shield's site below. I've designed the pages to be printed out on a single sheet as an accompaniment to a good star atlas (paper or electronic) which will be needed to get you to the right telescopic field.

More details on my equipment, and a few tips if you are new to the game of looking at "barely theres".


Jim Shield's amazing Adventures in Deep Space site has a nice page on the Hickson groups.

Ray Cash also has a nice Hickson groups page that includes observing notes on every (!!) group, generally with 13" and larger scopes.

Contact information

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File last modified: 17 December 2004

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