Triplet of Galaxies in Leo


Copyright 2008 Hap Griffin

The "Leo Triplet" is a close grouping of three distant galaxies in the constellation of Leo, providing a stunning view of three examples of the largest structural building blocks of the universe in a single field of view.  All three are at a distance of 35 million light years.

At the left is NGC 3628.  At the upper right is M65, and below it is M66.  All of these galaxies are spiral in nature, with NGC 3628 presenting itself edge-on.  A dark dust lane can be seen spanning its center.  M66 shows some distortion in its spiral arms...possibly owing to gravitational interaction with its neighbors.


Date/Location:    January 2, 2008     Griffin/Hunter Observatory    Bethune, SC
Instrument:    Canon 40D Digital SLR (modified) through Orion 10" Newtonian w/ Baader MPCC
Focal Ratio:   F /4.7
Guiding:    Auto through Orion ED-80 w/ SBIG ST-401 on an AP-1200 mount
Conditions:    Visually clear
Weather:    n/a 
Exposure: 92 minutes total @ ISO 800 (31 x 3 min exposures)
Filters:    Baader UV/IR Block internal to camera
Processing:    Focused and captured,  RAW to TIFF conversion, frame calibrations, frame stacking, Digital Development, scaling and JPEG conversion with ImagesPlus V3.  Finished in Photoshop CS2.