NGC 584 in Cetus
November 2018 - Galaxy of the Month
First discovered in 1785 by William Herschel, NGC 584 is an elliptical galaxy with a morphological classification of E4 in Cetus. It is accompanied by the spiral galaxy NGC 586, also discovered on the same night by William Herschel.
NGC 584 is also noted as IC 1712 as Barnard found it whilst observing the comet C/1888 R1 – one of his discoveries. He sent a note to Dreyer about it but then realised that it was NGC 584, which he neglected to tell Dreyer so the observation was added in as IC 1712.
Although NGC 584 is classified as an elliptical there is growing evidence that it may in fact be a lenticular, and in fact in the de Vaucouleurs Atlas of Galaxies (CUP) it is given as an example of an SA0-.
NGC 584 is part of a small group of about 8 galaxies catalogued as LGG 27 which also includes the galaxies NGC 586, NGC 596, NGC 600, NGC 615 and NGC 636. Most of the galaxies in this group are ellipticals or lenticulars. It is worth noting that other resources put the number of galaxies in the group as high as 11. William Herschel has the honour of discovering all the NGC galaxies in the group.
The group is only about 20 Mpc away from us and is spread quite widely across the sky with about 2 degrees separating NGC 584 and NGC 636. SIMBAD suggests NGC 584 is part of a pair of galaxies (one assumes with NGC 586). NED does not have this so I guess more work to be done, although NED does reference a paper which does suggest that NGC 586 is the companion. The pair are not obviously interacting. The NGC 584 group is also part of the Cetus II cloud.
Observationally, given that William Herschel found all these galaxies, they should not be that much of a challenge to find. NGC 584 itself is part of the Herschel 400 listing and O’Meara also has it has it as number 6 in his book of Hidden Treasures.
NGC 584, NGC 586, and NGC 596 should all fit in the same field of view of a modern hyperwide eyepiece at a medium power (say 160x). O’Meara suggests they are all visible in a 4” telescope, if you are at 7000’ up a mountain and in pristine skies. O’Meara also carries on the fashion of naming everything by calling NGC 584 the little spindle galaxy. Experienced galaxy observer Mark Stuart finds it only just visible with his 10” SkyWatcher from moderate skies in the UK.
For those who do not feel that NGC 584 is enough of a challenge then there are a number of other fainter galaxies in the area that will be a challenge for larger telescopes, including IC 127 and LEDA 1028168.
Owen Brazell - Galaxy Section Director