Nightscapes & Deep Sky Colors

Astrophotography Brian A. Morganti

Leo Triplet Galaxy Group

M65 / M66 / NGC 3628


The Leo Triplet (also known as the M66 Group) is a small group of galaxies about 35 million light-years away in the constellation Leo. This galaxy group consists of the spiral galaxies M65 (top right), M66 (bottom right), and an edge-on view of NGC 3628 (center left) that does not allow us to see the spiral arms.  At that distance, M65 and M66 are about 60,000 light years in diameter, while NGC3628 is about 100,000 light years in diameter (by comparison, our Milky Way galaxy is about 100,000 light years in diameter). Because they are relatively close together, they each show some signs of the gravitational  forces they subject on one another.  Image scale shown is about 1.5 wide x 1 high. 

North is to the left in the above image. 


  • Date & Location:  March 8/9th, 2013 - StarEffects Observatory - Bernville, PA

  • Weather:  Breezy, steady temperature near 34F. No snow cover

  • Sky Conditions:  Clear with above average transparency!

  • SQM-L: 20:43 start  - 20:53 finish which is excellent for this time of year.

  • Optics:  TeleVue NP101is @ 540mm f5.4

  • Filter:  Hutech IDAS-LPS (Light Pollution Suppression)

  • Mount:  AP900GTO

  • Guiding:  Orion SSAG @ 5 second exposures

  • Camera:  Canon T1i (500d) Hap Griffin modified - Baader UV/IR

  • Exposure:  27 x 8 min (3 hours 36 min total) all at ISO 800

  • Calibration Frames:  None - near freezing

  • Processing:  Images Plus 4.50b, PS CS6, GradientXTerminator, NIK filters  

  • Comments:  This was the only clear night available in March during the period of "new moon", but fortunately it was an exceptionally clear night for imaging this galaxy group.  This was also my first attempt at using a Custom White Balance setting for my modified T1i and the results are encouraging thus far.  I was not able to resolve the "tidal tail" that extends from NGC3628 with my DSLR, so this would be a target to attempt again in the future with a more sensitive CCD imaging camera.


Astrophotography  -  Nightscapes & Deep Sky Colors