(IAAC) Obj: M65, M66, ngc3628, ngc3593, ic677 - Inst: Newt 20" f/5

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Clear skies! -Lew]

Observer: Lew Gramer
Your skills (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced): Intermediate
Date and UT of Observation: 1997-1-10/11, 06:00 UT
Location: Topsfield, MA, USA (44N)
Site classification (urban, suburban, rural): semirural
Limiting magnitude: 5.9
Seeing: 2 - good
Moon up: no
Instrument: Newt Reflector 20" f/5 (dob)
Magnification: 70x, 210x, 360x
Filters used: None, Lumicon DeepSky
Object:M65, M66, ngc3628, ngc3593, ic677
Category: Spiral galaxies (all Sb, some interacting)
Constellation: Leo
Data: mag 9.3, 9.0, 9.5, 11.0, 12.5?  size 10x3', 9x4', 15x4', 6x3', 2x1'
RA/DE: 11h20m  +13o00m (rough center)
 M65 and M66 are beautiful objects, worthy of log entries all to them-
selves. But when viewing the other, lesser known members of their family,
these two interacting galaxies form such a striking sight that they
beg to at least be MENTIONED. M65 is obviously elongated to the NE-SW,
and showed clear indications of spiral arms (linear, arcing darkenings
within the pale halo), especially at 210x, and most strongly with the
DeepSky filter. (This may indicate these arms are rich in HII regions?)
 M66, in intriguing counterpoint, was oriented more NNE, and (EXCEPT in
the DeepSky) more elongated than M65. Even a brief glance showed hints of
mottling radiating out from the 3' oblong core into the halo. Both showed
strong cores, with several brightness gradations from the centers outward.
This was especially true of M65, which at higher and higher powers kept
fooling the eye with smaller and smaller "nuclei". The dark lanes, arms,
mottlings, and irregularities of these galaxies will easily fill their
own, separate later report. As for the lesser known siblings...
 NGC 3628 is much the largest member of this fascinating M65/M66 group,
showing itself MORE than the listed 15' long (perhaps 17'), 3' wide,
and elongated WNW-ESE. This nearly edge-on spiral exhibited a strong
dark lane just 1'-2' NNE of the loose core, running slightly off-axis
some 6' especially to the E, before fading into the dim outer halo of
the galaxy. At higher power (210x, 360x), the galaxy showed another,
much smaller dark lane 1' S of the core. The outer bound of this lane
was often indistinct, so it'd seem more a dark edge to the core. The
core showed several shadings, including the hint of a slightly brighter
nucleus somewhat N of the core's apparent center. Very pretty!
 NGC 3593 was a much less impressive sight, lying in a low-power field
by itself with two mag 7 white stars. This spiral was well elongated,
albeit less strongly than 3628, oriented roughly E-W. It contained a
weak, smallish core, exhibiting some mottling to averted vision, and
a faint halo, also seemingly somewhat irregular.
 IC 677 was a mostly featureless blur, showing slight NE elongation
to averted vision, but with no appreciable halo on the other SW side.
Not much to look at, but a neat little straggler in this galactic hive.

Karen Simmons & Lew Gramer dedalus@alum.mit.edu http://www.tiac.net/users/lewkaren