RA: 10hrs 46min 48secs      Dec: 10º 49' 00"    Mag: 9.2   Distance: 30 million light years   Constellation: Leo


In the second of Leo's 2 galaxy trios, this is the middle of the group of three which lie to the west of M65/66 and includes M95 and M105.  This group of three can be found by locating Regulus, the alpha star of Leo and looking approx 9° east.  The grouping of these galaxies is real and they form part of the same group with M65,66 and NGC3628, approximately 30 million light years away.  This group was discovered by Méchain in 1781 a year later than the previous goup.  M96 is classified as a SBb spiral.

This photo was taken on the evening of the 4th of April 2006 with the moon in its first quarter and a light breeze.  Seeing was good with low moisture content in the air.  This photograph is the sum of 6 photos taken by Envisage software and each photo in turn is the sum of multiple 21.2sec exposures as follows: 24 x 21.2, 20x, 28x, 17x, 21x, and 18x making up a cumulative exposure time of just over 45 minutes.  Only the last 4 of the envisage photos were 'dark subtracted' owing to an oversight and unfamiliarity with the newly upgraded Meade Autostar Suite (see M65/66).  The problem with this photo was the excessive background 'noise' as a result of the lack of dark subtraction in some of the contributory frames.  As with M65 and M66, the same technique was used - in selecting out the objecto of interest (the galaxy) with a feather of 30 pixels, then darkening the inverse selection using the curves command (individually reducing the RGB channels at the level of the background) prior to midtone enhancement of the galaxy itself. This was done using the Levels command in Photoshop from behind a layer mask of the inverted image to prevent 'blooming' of the stars and the galaxy core. 


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