IOM March 2012 – the Leo Trio

Yipppeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee – it’s Galaxy season once again – I love Galaxy season.  Although I am working on a mega-sized mosaic of the Virgo/Coma region, the image I have chosen for this month is the well-known Leo Trio of Galaxies in the constellation Leo.

In this original Hyperstar 2-frame image using the little H9C camera I have north to the left and the northern most galaxy (the Hamburger galaxy) is NGC3628 almost exactly edge-on to us with a very remarkable dust lane as you can see.  Moving to the right (south) we then come across a most useful guide star – SAO 99552 or HIP 55262 – blazing away at magnitude 7.12 and certainly the brightest star in the area.  Continuing south we then arrive at the Messier pair, M65 on the top and M66 underneath – two very nice examples of spiral galaxies with nice colours and very clear dust lanes.  This image is a 2-framer as the tiny H9C camera only gave me a small field of view, and at this time I was only using short subs with the original Hyperstar, in this case just 2-minutes per sub.  Each frame was a total of 4-hours imaging time and I can still recall how very lucky I was when I took these frames in that I had two clear nights in a row so I was able to get this particular job done and dusted very quickly, in the same year (very often my 2-framer efforts over run into the following year which is very frustrating).  NGC3628 is worth your special attention as coming out underneath the centre of the galaxy there is a long string of quasars which you can just barely make out in this image.

The Leo Trio is exceptional in that there are 3 such bright, large galaxies, all lying close together for a perfect framing composition – and a bright guide star is thrown in for good measure too.  What more can you ask for? 🙂

Until next month – clears skies to you all!

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