Please click the above image for a high res version
Object data: M66 (left) and M65 (right), the 'Leo Duo', form an attractive pair of galaxies in the constellation of Leo which show strong gravitational interaction owing to their close proximity. They are relatively close, being approximately 30 million light-years distant. Both galaxies were discovered Mechain (Messier's assistant) in March 1780 when they were also formally added to Messier's famous catalogue. Also please see this image of the Leo Trio which shows M65 and M66 together with NGC 3628.
Date: 13/03/10, 15/03/10, 02/04/11
Location: Southern France
Conditions: Good but periods of poor seeing, transparency=8, seeing=7
Optics: RCOS 12.5" Ritchey-Chretien with custom field flattener working at f/9.5
Mount: AP 900 GTO on Portable Pier
Camera: SBIG STL-11K, SBIG LRGBC filter set, -30°C
Guiding: Integral STL-11K autoguider
Exposure: LRGB Seq: 14x 20 minutes; 3x 20 : 13 : 20 minutes (binned 2x2).
Processing: Image acquisition, calibration, combining, and DDP were done using Maxim DL, registration of Luminance and RGB images was done using Registar, and final processing was done in Photoshop CS4.
Notes: Similar to the image of NGC 2903 this also proved quite tough because conditions did not permit enough data to be acquired on several past astronomical trips. Finally six usable Luminance images were acquired on 13/03/10 and a further eight a year later on 02/04/11, whereas the nine RGB images were acquired on 15/03/10. Like the images of M101 and M51 all image sequences were taken without having to flip the mount - a tremendous advantage of Astro-Physics mounts - see more on this capability in this new article.