128 is a tiny edge-on spiral galaxy distorted by tidal interaction
with one or more neighboring galaxies. Walter Scott Houston
wrote that he was able to view this galaxy in his 5-inch from a dark
site. An 8-10 inch instrument will show the peculiar box-shape at
the center. Be sure to use enough magnification here; at least
Computer modeling has
shown that the peculiar "X" shape seen in images can be
attributed to a the merger or accretion of a small galaxy that is
now complete. In this model the shape is created out of
tidally distorted disk material from the larger galaxy.
There are quite a few
tiny galaxies visible in this field in my 18-inch. NGC 128 is
the brightest, with the nearby NGC 125 coming in a close second.
Due to the small size of NGC 128 I used 430x for the best view.
It appeared as an irregular shaped, elongated smudge with two
attendant smudges to either side (NGC 127 & NGC 130). The
main portion appeared to be box like, appearing wider at the north
end. It had that irregular, speckled look that comes when
there is detail beyond your ability to resolve. Seeing this,
it's easy to understand how the great observers of previous
centuries imagined all nebulae to be made up of unresolved stars,
something that happens to be true in the case of galaxies such as
this one, although here the "speckling" is more
attributable to larger scale structure in the galaxy.
The field in a 10-inch
f/4.5 at 75x. North is down and east is to the right.
The galaxies that flank
NGC 128 (NGC 127 and NGC 130) are most likely nearby to it in space
as they all have about the same redshift, indicating that they are
at the same distance. The same can be said of the other
galaxies nearby such as NGC 125 and NGC 126. Together, these
galaxies form a cluster, loosely referred to as the NGC 128 group.