FUZZY SPOT, April 1997, Leo Minor

This time of the year brings us away from the Winter Milky Way with its clusters and nebula and into the Spring “Galaxy Zoo”.  For example, the SAC Deep Sky Database contains 69 objects in Leo Minor of which only 3 are not galaxies (and these are listed as non-existent NGC objects).

Leo Minor is a small constellation in an area north of his big brother (or perhaps her big sister) and just below the hind feet of the big bear.  The leading stars (46, Mag 3.9, Beta, Mag 4.4, and 21, Mag 4.5) form a flattened triangle.  Surprisingly, I could not find an Alpha star in any of the references I have.  Leo Minor also gets to claim a corner of one of the two “4 corners” in the sky which it shares with Lynx, Cancer, and Leo.

This constellation contains quite a number of Herschel 400 and SAC Best of the NGC objects, and although it doesn’t have many bright stars, I found it pretty easy to star-hop around here.  So let’s delve into Leo Minor and see what is available.

        NGC 2859 (09 24.3 +34 32)  This galaxy appeared as pretty small, somewhat bright, a slightly brighter middle with a very prominent stellar nucleus, and round.  Averted vision helped bring out the halo a little.  The galaxy forms a shallow triangle with stars to the W and S.

        NGC 3294 (10 36.3 +37 20)  This is a nice elongated galaxy WNW/ESE, somewhat bright, fairly large, little brighter in the middle, but without a nucleus identified.  Averted vision helps bring out the middle.  I also saw some possible mottling on this galaxy.

        NGC 3344 (10 43.5 +24 55)  This is a very interesting galaxy with two stars involved.  The galaxy itself is pretty large, somewhat bright, and a possible nucleus seen to the W of the stars.  It appears to be elongated E/W, but this is very hard to tell due to the stars.  Averted vision brings out some possible mottling.

        NGC 3395 (10 49.8 +32 59) and NGC 3396 (10 49.9 +32 59)  This pair of elongated galaxies forms a backward ‘L’ shape.  3395 is the brighter of the two, I called it pretty small, pretty faint, brighter in the middle, no nucleus seen, and elongated N/S.  3396 is a little bit smaller and fainter than 3395, is also brighter in the middle, but, unlike 3395, has a nucleus that comes and goes.  It is elongated E/W.  The galaxies are almost touching.

        NGC 3414 (10 51.3 +27.59)  This round galaxy sits in a nice field of stars (which, at least at my aperture, is more interesting than the galaxy).  The galaxy is somewhat bright, somewhat small, has a slightly brighter middle and a definite stellar nucleus.  Averted vision helps bring out the halo a little.

        NGC 3432 (10 52.5 +36 37)  This is a beautiful edge on galaxy which is large, a little faint, and extremely elongated WSW/ENE.  It is pretty even with no brightening towards the middle noted, but some possible mottling seen.  On the W end of the galaxy there are 2 stars and another star on the E side, not quite at the end.  I thought the star on the E was a double, but investigating photos show that there is only 1 star.  The combination of the stars and the edge on galaxy definitely makes this my favorite of the galaxies seen so far in Leo Minor.

        NGC 3486 (11 00.4 +28 58)  Though this round galaxy is pretty large, it is somewhat faint with a little brighter middle and contains an nucleus that is only occasional seen.  Nearby stars include one to the N and a second fainter one to the S which is just within the halo.

        NGC 3504 (11 03.2 +27 58)   This galaxy is fairly bright, fairly small, elongated WNW/ESE, much brighter in the middle with a non-stellar nucleus.  Just to the E is galaxy NGC 3512 (11 04.0 +28 02) which is pretty faint, pretty small, round, with a slightly brighter middle.  Averted vision really helps with this one (until the clouds move in, then it doesn’t help at all!)

Herschel 400 Objects
2859, 3245, 3277, 3294, 3344, 3395, 3414, 3432, 3486, 3504
SAC’s 110 Best of the NGC Objects
3344, 3423