The Leo Triplet

The Leo Triplet is a famous group of three galaxies located in the constellation Leo. This trio consists of three spiral galaxies: M65 (NGC 3623), M66 (NGC 3627), and NGC 3628. The proximity of these galaxies to one another makes them a captivating sight in the night sky for both astronomers and stargazers. Here's some information about each member of the Leo Triplet:

M65 (NGC 3623):

M65 is a spiral galaxy situated approximately 35 million light-years away from Earth. It exhibits prominent arms filled with regions of star formation, as well as dust lanes that cross its structure. This galaxy has a bright core and can be observed with moderate-sized telescopes. M65 is part of the larger M66 Group, which includes other galaxies in its vicinity.

M66 (NGC 3627):

M66, also known as the "Cigar Galaxy," is the largest and brightest member of the Leo Triplet. It is an intermediate spiral galaxy located about 36 million light-years away. M66 showcases well-defined spiral arms, a bright central bulge, and numerous H II regions, indicating active star formation. Its elongated shape resembles a cigar, giving it its popular nickname.

NGC 3628:

NGC 3628, often called the "Hamburger Galaxy" due to its edge-on orientation, completes the Leo Triplet. This galaxy is located approximately 35 million light-years away from Earth. Its disk is noticeably warped, and its dust lanes are prominent, giving it a unique appearance. NGC 3628 also displays a prominent central bulge and a faint halo of stars surrounding it.

Observing the Leo Triplet:

To observe the Leo Triplet, it is best to choose a clear and dark sky. These galaxies are visible through telescopes of moderate size, such as 8 inches (20 cm) or larger. A low magnification eyepiece will provide a wider field of view, allowing you to capture all three galaxies in the same view. M66 is the brightest of the trio and can be easily spotted, followed by M65 and NGC 3628. Look for their distinct shapes and structures, paying attention to the dust lanes and spiral arms.

The Leo Triplet serves as a remarkable example of interacting galaxies in close proximity, offering a glimpse into the complex dynamics of galactic interactions. Whether observing visually or capturing images, exploring the Leo Triplet is an exciting and rewarding experience for any astronomy enthusiast.

Equipment :

Mount  - SkyWatcher EQ6R Pro

Telescope - Orion 115mm EDT

Camera - ZWO ASI294MC Pro

Guiding Scope  - SVBony SV106

Guiding Camera - ZWO ASI120mm Mini

Acquisition - ZWO ASI Air Plus

Narrowband Filter - Optolong Lpro


Exposure  - 1 min subs

Integration - 5 hr

Gain - 120

Bortle Scale - 7

Software  - Pixinsight, Photoshop