Hickson 44 in Leo

44aNGC 31904.4X1.5 11.113.1
44bNGC 31933.0X2.7 10.913.1
44cNGC 31852.3X1.6 12.213.4
44dNGC 31873.0X1.3 13.414.7

Midway between the beautiful double star, Gamma Leonis (2.2/3.5 at 4.4") and mag 3.4 Zeta Leonis is the bright quartet, Hickson 44 in Leo, consisting of NGC 3185, 3187, 3190 and 3193. The three brightest members are visible in an 8" scope and are neatly aligned from southwest to northeast.

NGC 3190 is a striking 11th magnitude edge-on oriented northwest-southeast and displaying a stellar nucleus. An equatorial dust lane visible on photographs is a difficult target for large scopes. A prominent mag 11 elliptical, NGC 3193, is located 6' northeast and just 1' south of a mag 9 field star. On the opposite side of NGC 3190 is a nearly face-on barred spiral, NGC 3185, with a more diffuse halo. The most challenging member is the mag 13.5 edge-on NGC 3187 that may require a 10" to glimpse. Remarkably, its major axis is perfectly collinear with the bright edge-on NGC 3190 just 5' southeast! - Steve Gottlieb