Spiral Galaxy M66 (NGC 3627), type Sb, in Leo, in the Leo Triplett

RA 11:20.2 (h:m); DEC +12:59 (deg:m); Distance 35 million light years
Visual Brightness 8.9 (mag); Apparent Dimension 8x2.5 (arc min)

M66, together with its neighbours M65 and NGC 3628, forms a most conspicuous triplet of galaxies, the Leo Triplet or M66 group, located at a distance of about 35 million light years.

M66 is considerably larger than its neighbour, M65, and has a well developed but not well defined central bulge, and is therefore classified Sb. Obviously its spiral arms are deformed, probably because of the encounters with its neighbors. They seem to be distorted and displaced above the plane of the galaxy. Note how one of the spiral arms seems to pass over the left side of the central bulge. Much dust is visible here, as well as a few pink nebulae, signs of star formation, near the end of one of the arms.

Here is a stunning image: I wish it was mine ...

Source and more: SEDS


M65 - M66: Galaxy Doublet in Leo
March 30, 2009 19:37 - 21:34 UT.
Imaging: William Optics Zenithstar 80 ED II APO, f/6.8 [focal length 545 mm] with ATK16IC camera, Astronomik LRGB filters.
Exposures: Lum 16x300s [1x1]; RGB 5x120s [2x2]; all unguided.

Galaxy Triplet: M65, M66 and NGC3628.
February 7, 2009 23:19 - 00:05 UT.
More about this triplet here
Imaging: William Optics Zenithstar 80 ED II APO with Meade 3.3 Focal Reducer at f/3 [focal length 240 mm], ATK16IC camera, Astronomik LRGB filters.
Exposures: Lum 21x60s [1x1]; RGB 10X30x [2x2]; all unguided.

Neighbouring Galaxies: M65 and M66.
March 11, 2007 22:10 - 22:41 UT.
Imaging: William Optics Zenithstar 80 ED II APO, f/6.8 [focal length 545 mm] with diagonal, Baader Infra Red Blocking Filter; Vesta Pro-SC3a b/w RAW camera.
53 unguided exposures of 30 seconds.

March 9, 2007 22:11 - 22:27 UT.
Imaged with LX200 10-inch f/10 telescope with 0.33 Focal Reducer operating at f/4.06 [focal length 1015mm], Vesta Pro-SC3a b/w RAW mode, Baader Infra Red Blocking Filter.
30 unguided exposures of 15 seconds.

March 20, 2006 21:34 - 21:44 UT.
Imaged with LX200 10-inch f/10 telescope with 0.33 Focal Reducer operating at f/4.06 [focal length 1015mm], Vesta Pro-SC3a b/w RAW mode, Baader Infra Red Blocking Filter.
20 autoguided exposures of 12 seconds

April 1, 2005 20:49 - 21:09 UT.
Leo Triplet: M65 - M66 - NGC3628: a Triplet of Galaxies in Leo.
More about this triplet here
Imaging: 200mm SLR Photolens, Baader Infra Red Blocking Filter, Vesta SC3a b/w RAW camera, 67 unguided exposures of 15 seconds.


April 24, 2004 21:30 - 21:41 UT.