(IAAC) HICKSON 68 (NGC 5353, NGC 5350, NGC 5354, NGC 5355, NGC 5358) INST: 18" Newt f/4.2

Observer:  Todd Gross
Your skill:  Intermediate 
Date and UT of observation: 1/21/99 09:10GMT
Location & latitude: 22 mi. West of Boston, Ma. 42.3N
Site classification: Suburban
Limiting magnitude (visual): 4.9(estimated) zenith 
Seeing (1 to 10 - worst-best): about 3 or 4
Moon up (phase?): No
Weather: Clear, snowcovered (light pollution)
Instrument: 18" Stabilite Newt f/4.2 1925mm fl
Magnifications: 159X
Filters used: none
Object: Hickson 68 - galaxy group, includes NGC5353 and 4 others
Constellation: CVn
Object data: Galaxy group
Size(s): 2.1x1.1 - 5353,5354 smallest, 5350 & 5358 largest  
Position: RA13:53 DEC+40:17
Magnitude: 11.1
Personal "rating" (at this aperture, and sky condition):  A-
Magnificent! Inspired by a Sky and Tel. article, I slewed the scope over 
to this group as my last stop on a busy observing morning. I drew the galaxy
group from memory this morning, and it looks almost exactly like the sky
and tel 
drawing with a 17.5"..p115, 3/99.  The good news though.. I'm under suburban 
semi-light polluted skies, and still was able to make out all five members.
The galaxy group is highlighted by a triangle of galaxies,(clockwise NGCs
5350, and 5354 (-bottom tip)) with a 4th..bright NGC5353 just off the
bottom tip  
of the triangle. A 5th galaxy, NGC5358 is well off to the (left) side, but 
oriented the same way as highly elongated NGC5353.  
NGC5353 is a very small, prominent galaxy, easy to see even with the scope 
stopped down to 7". It is immediately recognizable as an edge-on or
elongated spiral. 
It's neighbor, the tip of the triangle, NGC5354.. is also very bright and 
visible at 7" aperture... however like the rest of the 3 in the triangle,
it is round.
With averted vision, the remainding 2 of the triangle, NGCs 5355 and 5350 can 
barely be picked up with the 7" off-axis mask. NGC5358 disappears with the 7" 
mask in place. 
NGC5358 off by itself was best visible with averted vision, even at full 18" 
aperture. It was the hardest to detect. It is right next to a double star of 
about 12.5 magnitude, quite close and pretty white (gray)double. Other
of this galaxy group include a bright, 6th magnitude ORANGE tinted star
that adds 
color to the group. It is located (on the right) nearest NGCs 5350 and 5354. 
The obvious spiral nature of NGC5353, the orange star, the double, and the
plus the parallel orientation of 5358 to 5353 all make for a fabulous
eyepiece scene. 
...but less impressive when stopped down to 7". In dark country skies, even
a 12" 
should pick it all up.
Todd Gross
Boston Meteorologist Todd Gross
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