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Galaxy groups in Leo

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A lovely clear night in mid Wales with the 10 inch reflector.

I started at about 1:30, with the moon well out of the way.  It seems a long time since I looked at the late spring sky, so I spent the first hour rushing around seeing old friends.  Got lost in the Virgo-Coma Berenices region as usual, but saw NGC4565, M64, M53 and about a dozen galaxies in the main cluster, plus a trip down to the Sombrero in Virgo.  A quick look at M82 and M81, down the length of Ursa Major (M108, the Owl, M109, M101 and M51) and into Canes Venaciti to see M106, C21,M94, M63, M3, NGC4618 and NGC4490.  Back towards where I started, taking in C32, the Whale and NGC4656.

At this point I needed a change of gear and something a little more focused.  For some reason I set upon groupings of galaxies in Leo.  Apart from being good to look at, groupings can also offer a challenge to see each member that the scope should reach.  You know where everything should be, so there is no doubt when it is just beyond your reach.

First up was the Leo triplet (M65, M66 and NGC3628).  Very easy to spot and some nice structure.  M66 showed the bar extension and NGC3628 provided a little hint of its dark lane. 

Next off in the direction of Regulus until you get to M105, NGC3384 and NGC3389.  A very nice sight this one and something I have never spent any time on before.  The dimmest member (3389), was pretty clear at a magnitude of 12, so I decided to press on.

A quick look at M95 and M96, whch didn't really count for me as they are only a pair and then up into the reverse question mark of Leo's head.  About mid way between Adhafera and Algieba is a fine knot of galaxies that is easy to locate for those of us without Goto - NGCs 3193, 3189, 3190, 3185 and 3187. I am not sure that I got the last of these, but the rest reminded me of Stephan's quintet, though brighter and a little more spread out.  Well worth a visit.

The final grouping was close by and another one that is easy to locate.  NGCs 3226, 3227 and a little off to the side, NGC 3222.  The final one of these was a good test at magnitude of about 13. 

That was it for the galaxies.  To remind myself that the summer is coming I had a quick look at a few summer highlights.  M5 was nicely resolved, unlike M56 which only showed its stars near its perimeter.  Finally M57 and to bed.

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Thanks for sharing your night of observation. Still being a relative newbie I like the idea of knowing where clusters and nearby Galaxies are as it gives me something else to aim for.  

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Lovely report, some super targets, The Whale is an old favourite,


The Whale is great isn't it? There really is a lot to look for, even with a moderate telescope - it makes a good contrast to all those spherical galaxies a bit further south.

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I love reading obs reports, thanks for this, Bodkin.   :) Amazing what can be seen with the 10" in dark skies!

Have you had much chance to wheel out the monster dob at all?

You are welcome;  I enjoyed writing it up.  You are right, it is all about dark skies.  I have lived most of my life in cities and couldn't of dreamed of this haul in a season, let alone a short night. 

The monster dob is proving a bit too monstrous for me and is still dismantled.  There are some scopes that are nice to own and others that are nice to use (probably some do both).  A 14 inch F6 dobsonian would probably be my perfect choice.  In the meanwhile I have looked into selling or giving away the big dob, but for now I am keeping it.  I may well re-house the optics in a lighter weight structure and use the rest of the scope as something else (structure for a bomb shelter perhaps).   

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Nice report Jonathan.

Great to hear from someone that's lived in cities finally getting to move to good dark skies. Good on ya :)

Two decades of astronomy under orange skies has really taught me to appreciate the dark.

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A very nice report and I enjoyed readng it. I was out over the past couple of nights viewing the pair NGC 4490 and NGC 4485, NGC 4244 (the silver needle galaxy), NGC 4618, NGC 2903, NGC 2775, NGC 3184 and the Leo triplet. All very visible even with the moon up. I really enjoy viewing galaxies and so Spring should be a good time.

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