M66
Nearly face-on, interacting Spiral Galaxy
aka NGC 3627, Arp 16, PGC 34695, MCG 2-29-19, Uppsala 6346
Integrated Visual Magnitude: 9.6
Apparent Diameter: 8.7' x 4.1'
Mean surface brightness: 22.1 mag/arc-sec2

Minimum requirements to view: 2-inch scope under country skies


Three bright galaxies in Leo form a famous trio.  The two brightest are M65 and M66.  They are visible in even the smallest amateur instruments from a suitably dark site.  The third is NGC 3628.  Although it wasn't observed by Messier, it is still an excellent target for telescopes large and small.  Burnham's noted that they "form a noble group for the small telescope."

The M65, M66 and NGC 3628 trio. M65 is upper left. M66 upper right. The field is 1o x 1o. North is down and east is to the right.
Burnham's describes M66 as "an impressive object with its heavy dust lanes and thick spiral arms studded with coarse masses of star clouds.  The largest arm, on the SE side, resembles a huge crab's claw; fainter arms can be traced out for vast distances." 

In smaller instruments M66 appears as a diffuse elongated haze.  In my 18-inch the bright inner portion appeared quite asymmetrical--almost like a "jet" to one side of the nucleus.  Many observers report a mottling due to the presence of knots of star clusters and dust clouds. 

The field in a 6-inch at 50x.  North is down and east is to the right.

Millennium Star Atlas Vol II Chart 728
Sky Atlas 2000 Chart 13
Uranometria 2000 Vol I Chart 191

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