THE LEO TRIPLET - M65, M66, AND NGC 3628

Updated: Oct 28, 2019


The Leo Triplet, also called the M66 group, is a small group of spiral galaxies in Leo.

The Leo Triplet is composed of two Messier objects, M65 and M66, as well as NGC 3628, which is also called the Hamburger galaxy due to its shape.


When photographing this target, make sure you aim your camera properly so you can get all three of the galaxies showing nicely in your frame.

Below is our image of the Leo Triplet, and with all the details underneath.



GEAR USED:

Camera: Canon 7D Mark II

Telescope: Orion 8" Astrograph f/3.9

Mount: Atlas EQ-G motorized Mount

Coma: Baader MPCC Coma Corrector MkIII

Guiding: Starshoot Autoguider - 50mm Guide Scope

Processing: Pixinsight

ACQUISITION DETAILS:

Total Exposure Time: 3.45 hours

Exposure Time per frame: 3 minutes

69 lights - 15 Darks - 15 Bias

ISO: 800

LOCATING THE LEO TRIPLET

The Leo Triplet can be found in the constellation of Leo, not far from Ursa Major and Virgo.

To locate it, first find the star Chertan which makes up part of the back legs of the lion, then move downward towards Virgo. You are likely to land on at least one of the three galaxies, so missing the remaining two is nearly impossible.


In dark skies, far from any light pollution, all three galaxies can be observed through binoculars. An 8” telescope is also ideal for viewing the group in one field of view.



SINGLE SHOT AND PROCESSING

The Leo Triplet can be a little scary to process for beginners who have never imaged more than one galaxy at a time before. Thankfully, all three of those galaxies are similar in size, color, and brightness, which makes the editing part much simpler than expected!

The image below (left) is one of our single, 3 minute shots of the triplet, followed by the final image. Note that our "main" final image (see top of the page) has been cropped and rotated to our liking.



Crop on Messier 65 (left), Messier 66 (middle) and NGC 3628 (right).


COOL FACTS
  • May be part of a bigger group

  • Messier 66 is the brightest of the three

  • All deformed by each other's gravity


MESSIER 65 & MESSIER 66 LOG ENTRY VIDEO


Final Thoughts

The Leo Triplet is a very good target for amateur astrophotographers who are looking to image something a little more complicated than a single galaxy. M65, M66, and NGC 3628 can be photographed with pretty much any size telescope.


Clear Skies,

Galactic Hunter





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