Tonight was a spectacular night at the Lost Pleaid Observatory. A very mild day with little change predicted in the weather over the next few days (due to a high pressure system) resulted in skies that were steadier than they have been in some time. On a scale of 1-5 with 5 being perfectly stable, tonight was a 4 at the worst moments and at times the seeing ranged to an almost perfect 5/5. With several hours of dark skies before moonrise, I decided that I would push the limits of my 5.5 inch refractor a bit and observe some galaxies.
Before the serioius hunting started, Ian joined me in the observatory which is a rare pleasure for me. I showed him the great orion nebula (M42) and the trapezium stars, and he remarked that the A through D stars were in the shape of a butterfly- I have looked at this group of stars countless times yet I have never noticed this. Maybe we should observe with kids more often! I also showed him M82 (the Cigar galaxy) as well as the very pretty open cluster M46 which has a planetary nebula (NGC 2438) superimposed on the cluster.
The triplet consists of M65, M66 and NGC 3628 and can be seen in the photo to the left. I was observing these galaxies tonight and decided to take a look in the atlas and see what other targets may be nearby. I turned to the page where I would find Leo and started to look near Regulus (the brightest star in Leo) and the famous sickle pattern of bright stars. I immediately noticed NGC 3190 and NGC 3193 sitting just east of Algieba, the third brightest star in Leo. As these galaxies are approximately 11th magnitude I knew that they would be a challenge in my refractor, but as they were not large, they should be visible. I pointed the scope at the coordinates and was rewarded with a view of these interacting galaxies. After observing them for a few minutes I decided to make a sketch.
Time of sketch 0350 UT, March 4, 2010
NGC 3190 NGC 3193
RA: 10h 18.1m 10h 18.4m
Dec: +21 deg 50 min +21 deg 50 min
Mag: 11.2 10.9
Size: 3.5' x 1.4' 2.2'
Distance: 53 million LY 56 million LY
visit the source of this photo where you can view a high resolution version of this image. And if you own a large scope, you can observe all three of these galaxies!