Hemisphere:  Northern  ·  Constellation: Canes Venatici (CVn)  ·  Contains:  NGC 5350  ·  NGC 5353  ·  NGC 5354  ·  NGC 5355  ·  NGC 5358
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Hickson 68, 


            Gary Imm

Hickson 68

Getting plate-solving status, please wait...
Hickson 68, 


            Gary Imm

Hickson 68

Imaging telescopes or lenses: Takahashi TOA-130NFB

Imaging cameras: ZWO ASI 6200 MM Pro

Mounts: Astro-Physics Mach1GTO

Guiding cameras: ZWO ASI 174 MM Mini

Software: Main Sequence Software Sequence Generator Pro  ·  Pixinsight  ·  Stark Labs PHD2 2.6.3

Filters: Chroma Blue 2" unmounted  ·  Chroma Red 2" unmounted  ·  Chroma Green 2" unmounted  ·  Chroma Luminance 2" unmounted

Accessory: ZWO M68 OAG  ·  ZWO EFW 2″X7  ·  Takahashi Flattener TOA-67  ·  Feathertouch Focuser Boss II Electronic Focusing Control

Dates:March 18, 2021March 19, 2021

Astrodon Green 31mm Gen2 I-Series: 30x120" (1h) (gain: 0.00) -20C bin 1x1
Chroma Blue 2" unmounted: 30x120" (1h) (gain: 0.00) -20C bin 1x1
Chroma Luminance 2" unmounted: 60x120" (2h) (gain: 0.00) -20C bin 1x1
Chroma Red 2" unmounted: 30x120" (1h) (gain: 0.00) -20C bin 1x1

Integration: 5h

Avg. Moon age: 5.05 days

Avg. Moon phase: 26.31%

Astrometry.net job: 4328821

RA center: 13h 53' 20"

DEC center: +40° 19' 39"

Pixel scale: 0.321 arcsec/pixel

Orientation: 2.503 degrees

Field radius: 0.205 degrees

Resolution: 3748x2656

Locations: Backyard (Mag 20.8 - Bortle 4.5), Onalaska, Texas, United States

Data source: Backyard


This object is a small galaxy cluster, Hickson 68, located primarily 90 million light years away in the constellation of Canes Venatici at a declination of +40 degrees. This cluster of 5 NGC galaxies lies within a diameter of 10 arc-minutes. Hickson 68 is the 3rd brightest cluster (magnitude 11. in the Hickson catalog. My collection of Hickson images is here.

The Hickson catalog is a collection of 100 galaxy clusters identified by Paul Hickson in 1982. Hickson compact galaxy clusters are tightly spaced relative to other space objects. A typical Hickson cluster has 4 galaxies, but can have up to 7. In case you are wondering, here is the criteria for inclusion of a cluster in the Hickson catalog, in Hickson’s own words:

“By compact group, we mean a small, relatively isolated, system of typically four or five galaxies in close proximity to one another. Such groups do not necessarily form a distinct class, but may instead be extreme examples of systems having a range of galaxy density and population. Hickson adopted a relative magnitude criterion, selecting systems of four or more galaxies whose magnitudes differ by less than 3.0. A distance independent (to first order) compactness criterion was employed: mubarG < 26, where mubarG is the mean surface brightness of the group calculated by distributing the flux of the member galaxies over the smallest circular area containing their geometric centers. To avoid including the cores of rich clusters, an isolation criterion was necessary so as to reject the group if a non-member galaxy, not more than 3 mag fainter than the brightest member, occurred within three radii of the center of the circle. (A non-member galaxy is a galaxy which if included in the group would cause the group to fail one or more of the selection criteria.) From a search of 67% of the sky (all the POSS prints), and using magnitudes estimated from the POSS red prints, exactly 100 groups were found satisfying these criteria.”

In this image, the largest galaxy of the cluster to our apparent view is NGC 5350, a grand design barred spiral seen just above and left of the bright 6.5 magnitude orange star. This galaxy is about 70,000 light years in diameter. I love the detailed disk structure, including star clusters and wonderfully defined arms.

4 of these 5 galaxies are 90 million light years away, but the 5th (NGC 5354) is further out at 120 million light years. This large elliptical galaxy has an interesting dust band crossing vertically in front of the bright core.

Surprisingly, I don’t see much sign of interaction amongst these Hickson 68 galaxies.

The graceful grand design spiral galaxy UGC 8841 is photobombing the Hickson 68 group, sneaking in at the lower left edge of the image.



  • Final
    Hickson 68, 


            Gary Imm
  • Hickson 68, 


            Gary Imm


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Hickson 68, 


            Gary Imm