DSLR astrophotography by Sergi Verdugo

The Leo Triplet

Exposure: 64×360″ + 32×60″ @ ISO 1600
Telescope: William Optics Megrez 88FD with Borg DG-L
Filter: None

Mount: Skywatcher EQ6 Pro
Camera: Amp-off Modded & Cooled Canon 350D
Date: 9th April and 14th May 2010
Location: Coll d’Ares, Àger (Lleida)
Comments: I needed 2 nights to get the almost 7 hours of exposure. I wanted to frame in this image the famous triplet of galaxies and the galaxy NGC 3593. Also I wanted to get the very faint tidal tail of NGC 3628 visible, that’s why I needed so much exposure time.

The Leo Triplet, also known as the M66 group, is a small group of 3 galaxies about 35 light-years away. Large spiral galaxy NGC 3628 (bottom center) shares its neighborhood in the local Universe with two other large spirals, M65, which is at the left edge of this deep cosmic group portrait, and M66, just a bit above it and to the right. The tail stretching up to the right from NGC 3628 for about 300,000 light-years (requires a well callibrated monitor to be correctly viewed) is a very faint feature difficult to image. Known as a tidal tail, the structure has been drawn out of the galaxy by gravitational tides during brief but violent past interactions with its large neighbors and is composed of young bluish star clusters and star-forming regions.
Also in this image, near the upper left corner, lies the galaxy NGC 3593, a spiral galaxy also located in the constellation Leo.