…continuedA Galaxy-Hop in Leo
On to M96 and M95
A half degree southeast, Double C is 36" wide with the 10.7-magnitude component southwest of the 9th-magnitude primary.
S1472 in the same field is brighter, magnitudes 8.1 and 8.8, about 40" wide with a K0 primary. The stars looked pale yellow-orange and greenish gray. Its secondary star and that of Double C point nearly toward each other.
S1477 is closer, with a separation of 18", and nearly equal; both stars are 9th magnitude. They're aligned almost east-west (position angle 275°). This is the prettiest pair of the four, and it forms a nice little triangle with two field stars.
18. M105 and NGC 3384 (mags. 9.3 and 9.9, s.b. 12.1 and 12.8). The surprises keep coming! This is another beautiful pair of glows in the same field, a follow-on to M65-M66 and NGC 3607-08. M105 is larger and has a bigger glowing core. NGC 3384 has a bright nucleus too but is somewhat smaller overall. I couldn't say I definitely saw NGC 3389 (mag. 11.9, s.b. 12.9), located very close by.
There's a nice little row of four 10th-magnitude stars running north-south just east of this pair or trio. I didn't want to leave this spot a special deep-sky find worth returning to on future nights.
19. M96 (mag. 9.2, s.b. 12.9). We end the show with two bangs. The Sa-type spiral M96 was found easily, all by itself in a relatively starless field. It's large, appeared slightly elongated northwest-southeast, and has a bright center. I thought it looked a little more sharply bordered on the northeast side.
We've worked westward all the way from the Lion's tail tip to his midriff, flea-like. By now, if you've taken the tour at a leisurely pace and stayed out late, Leo is already carrying his deep-sky cargo down toward the west. Time to turn in, with visions of galaxy glows in hidden depths over the rooftops to bring to our dreams.