FUZZY SPOT,  April 2002, Leo

With the winter Milky Way setting in the west, the galaxy rich spring skies are rising.    A definite sign of this is the presence of Leo overhead.  Bright Regulus at the base of the sickle, which forms the head, is easy to spot, the triangle of stars to the east forms the hind, and a few fainter stars to the south complete the legs making a whole lion.

In Leo, there is a wide varity of galaxies ranging from the relatively easy Messier objects to some very nearby but faint dwarf galaxies.  All of the observations here were made in my 10" F4.5 scope.

        NGC 2903 (09 32.2 +21 29) This large face-on spiral galaxy is better than some of the Messier objects.  It is very bright, large, elongated N/S, has a bright middle and a non-stellar nucleus.  Using averted vision, a possible clockwise spiral structure was seen.  Some mottling was seen, using a UHC filter helped bring out some of the brighter knots.

        NGC 3351 (10 44.0 +11 42) This is the first Messier object in Leo, M-95.  I saw it as somewhat bright, fairly large, with a much brighter middle and a non-stellar nucleus.  It was seen as round, and by using averted vision, I suspected some swirling around the middle.

        NGC 3368 (10 46.8 +11 49) M-96 is next door to M-95, and is very bright, pretty large, much brighter in the middle and contains a non-stellar nucleus.  It is elongated NNW/SSE.  The halo drops off suddenly on the WSW side, and the nucleus appears to be on the NNW side.

        NGC 3379 (10 47.8 +12 35) M-105, NGC 3384, NGC 3389 One of my favorite galaxy groups in the sky, I like to refer to this as the Leo trio. M-105 is the brightest of the group, very bright with a bright center and a somewhat bright round halo.  84 is the next brightest, located to the ENE of M-105.  It is roughly the same as M-105 but a little fainter, and may be elongated slightly.  89 is much fainter than the other two galaxies, and is located to the ESE of M-105.  It is faint, with a slightly brighter middle, and a suggestion of elongation.

        NGC 3623 (11 18.9 +13 05) M-65  Now we move into the two bright galaxies of Leo.  These can even be seen from a fairly light polluted city site.  M-65 is somewhat bright (but a little fainter than M-66), a little brighter in the middle, and contains a non-stellar nucleus.  It is very elongated NNW/SSE, with the core being elongated more NW/SE.  There are stars nearby to the SW and NE, neither are involved with the galaxy.  Using averted vision shows the elongation better and makes the nucleus stand out.  Between M-65 and M-66, I like this one better.

        NGC 3627 (11 20.2 +12 59) M-66  The second of this Messier pair is pretty big, very bright, very elongated NW/SE, somewhat brighter in the middle, and contains a possible non-stellar nucleus.  The halo is very bright, and by using averted vision, it helps bring it out and enhances the elongation.  To the W is a nice pattern of stars just out of the halo.

        NGC 3628 (11 20.3 +13 36)  This galaxy is north of M-66.  It is pretty bright, pretty large, very elongated E/W with a possible dust land on the S. The center brightens up somewhat but there is no nucleus to be seen.  Using averted vision brings out some mottling, but applying the UHC filter does not help.

        NGC 3681 (11 26.5 +16 52), NGC 3684, NGC 3686, NGC 3691.  This is a unique grouping of 4 galaxies.  81, 84, and 86 are in a row roughly NE/SW, and 91 is perpendicular to this row on the SE.  All four galaxies are in the same field of view at 70X.  81 is the SW most galaxy, at 100x it is located near a grouping of 4 stars.  The galaxy is somewhat bright, pretty small, and has a bright center with a possible occasional stellar nucleus.  I saw it as elongated either N/S or NNW/SSE.  The middle galaxy is 84.  It is the faintest of the three in a row, not too bright, with a brighter middle.  Using averted vision makes the halo grow slightly, and shows a slight elongation N/S.  86 is on the NE end and is the largest of the three.  It is pretty large, somewhat bright, has a little brighter middle, but without a nucleus.  There is a possible elongation with this galaxy, but I couldn't tell the direction.  Finally, 91 is the faintest and smallest of the group.  Very little detail is seen on this galaxy, using averted vision really helps it show up.

Herschel 400 Objects
2903, 2964, 3190, 3193, 3226, 3227, 3377, 3379, 3384, 3412, 3489, 3521, 3593, 3607, 3608, 3626, 3628, 3640, 3655, 3686, 3810, 3900, 3912
SAC’s 110 Best of the NGC Objects
2903, 3384, 3521, 3607, 3628