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Dates & Location

March 13th - 15th 2013 using the SMAP site at Weed, New Mexico. Elevation 7269 ft. Lat 32.8°N Long 195.5W  

Catalogue identification

M66, NGC 3627 (to the left of centre)
M65,NGC 3623, Arp 317 (to the right of centre)

Equipment Used

Officina Stellare RC400 at 3278mm focal length, F8.2.
Paramount ME German equatorial Mount.
Camera SBIG ST-11000M with FW-8L filter wheel.
AstroDon MMOAG with SBIG Remote Guide Head.
Optec Pyxis 3" Rotator.
TheSky V6 telescope control.
CCDSoft V 5.0 camera control.
ScopeDome remote observatory.


Where are they in space

In the constellation of Leo.
Approx 2.6
° SSE of Chertan (Theta Leonis).
n this image North is at the 11 o'clock position.


Remote session using RADMIN PC control from Ravenshead, UK.
Exposures:- 300:140:130:130 mins total using 20 min Lum, and 10 min each for RGB sub-images.

  What it is

M66 and M65 lie about 35 million light-years away. They are about 100 thousand light-years across, and are 2 of the 3 member of the Leo Triplet of galaxies. In M66, dust lanes and young, blue star clusters can be seen dotted with the glow of the red star forming regions. It has been distorted in shape by the gravitational influence of the other two galaxies in the group, the third being the Hamburger Galaxy, NGC 3628 which is outside the upper part of the frame of this image. The M65 galaxy is less affected this way and shows a more conventional structure.

M65 was host to a supernova in the same month as this set of images was taken, but no sign of it was seen here which was 10 daysbefore the SN reached its peak brightness.

Processing Methods

Image acquisition and telescope control with CCDSoft V5. Remote acquisition sequence program CCDAutoPilot.  
  Data reduction, mild Lum de-convolution and master RGB colour image prepared with CCDStack.  

Lum and RGB masters combined and finished with Photoshop CS6.