Trio of Galaxies in Leo

Trio of galaxies in Leo

M65, M66 and NGC 3628 Galaxies

M65 and M66 are two spiral galaxies in Leo that present a fine pair in the same low power field of view of most amateur telescopes. Joined by NGC 3628, they form a beautiful trio in the constellation Leo. M65 shines at magnitude 9.2 and M66 is rated at magnitude 8.9. These galaxies can be seen with a good pair of binoculars under dark skies. The galaxies are about 30 million light-years away. The diameter of M65 is about 60,000 light-years, and the diameter of M66 is about 50,000 light-years.

M65 and M66 were discovered by P. Mechain in March 1780. Charles Messier did not notice these galaxies, even though Messier's comet of 1773 passed by them on November 2, 1773. Mechain suggested that Messier "no doubt missed them because of the light of the comet." These galaxies were added to the second publication of the Messier List in 1780. Both Messier and Mechain missed nearby NGC 3628 galaxy. M65 is the galaxy at the upper right of this image, and M66 is the galaxy on the lower right. NGC 3628 is the galaxy on the left in this image.

This is an LRGB color composite CCD image assembled from exposures taken on two nights. An SBIG STL-11000M CCD was used with a Takahashi FCT-150 refractor at f7. This image was taken from my backyard.

M65 (NGC 3623)
Constellation: Leo
RA: 11h 18m 56s Dec: +13d 05' 27" (J2000)

M66 (NGC 3627)
Constellation: Leo
RA: 11h 20m 15s Dec: +12d 59' 24" (J2000)

NGC 3628
Constellation: Leo
RA: 11h 20m 17s Dec: +13d 35' 24" (J2000)

March 11 & 15, 2008
Image by Sid Leach
Scottsdale, Arizona

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