Messier Objects

M65 & M66: Spiral Galaxies (Leo)
Instrument: 10-inch Starfinder

M65 and M66 M65 and M66 are a pair of bright spiral galaxies in Leo. The hop is an easy one. Begin at 3.3 magnitude Chort, Theta Leonis. Drop south about 2 degrees to 5.3 magnitude 73 Leonis, then 1 degree east to the galaxies. A 7.1 magnitude star burns just to the north of M65 and M66. M66 is the brighter of the two but both are easy targets for moderate aperture. Both appear elongated north-south at 63X in my 10-inch Newtonian. Sharing the field with these Messier objects is 9.5 magnitude NGC 3628. It's surprising Charles Messier did not notice this big, bright spiral.

M65: Spiral Galaxy (Leo) RA: 11h 18.9m / DEC: +13° 05'.6
Instrument: 10-inch Starfinder

M65 Higher magnification reveals more detail in these galaxies. At 190X, M65 covers a 5'x2'.5 area. This 9.4 magnitude Sa-type galaxy features a bright core region encased within an oval disk. The core appears slightly offset from the disk, being aligned north-south compared to the disk's north-northeast to south-southwest orientation. A 12th magnitude GSC star is visible just 2' from M65's southern tip. An 11th magnitude GSC star shines 5'.5 due west of the core. Nine additional field stars frame the view. M66 neighbors about 20' to the east-southeast.

M66: Spiral Galaxy (Leo) RA: 11h 20.3m / DEC: +12° 59'.5
Instrument: 10-inch Starfinder

M66 Nearby M66 is an Sb-type galaxy in the Hubble scheme. This 9.0 magnitude stellar metropolis also features a bright core embedded within a 5'x2'.5 nebulosity. M66 is aligned north-south with a 9th magnitude GSC star perched at the northern limit. An 11th magnitude GSC star stands another 3' to the north. The field is dotted by 6 other stars. NGC 3628 beckons some 36' to the north.

M64-Black Eye Galaxy M67


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Revised: May 6, 2002 [WDF]