Spiral Galaxy M96 (NGC 3368), type Sa, in Leo
RA 10 : 46.8 (h:m); DEC +11 : 49 (deg:m); Distance 38 million light years;
Visual Brightness 9.2 (mag); Apparent Dimension 6x4 (arc min)

M96 is the brightest member of the Leo I group of galaxies, which is therefore also called the M96 group, and also includes M95, M105 as well as a number of fainter galaxies.

According to J.D. Wray's Color Atlas of Galaxies, the bright inner disk is composed of a smooth yellow stellar population of old stars, which ends slightly beyond a ring of blue knots. These knots are probably clusters of young, hot stars. As visible in the image, this galaxy contains a significant amount of dust, which is apparently more concentrated on the left side in my image. It is common that dust appears with greater contrast on the near side of a galaxy than on the far side, so this asymmetry indicates that the near side of M96 is on the left in my image.

Source and more: SEDS


April 5, 2006 21:45 - 22:04 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 autoguided exposures of 30 seconds.