Featured Deep Sky Objects
M95, M96, and M105

Deep Sky Object Chart | Stars in Leo | M65/M66 | NGC2903

M95/M96/M105 beneath the central portions of Leo, another pair of spirals lurks, this time with an outlying cousin Mr. Messier did not miss. The closer and brighter of these three are M95 and M96, and again there are important differences. M96 is the brightest, at magnitude 10.5, and the largest. It is perhaps halfway open to our view, a bright nucleus surrounded by many spiral arms.

M95, some 41 arc minutes (a moon width plus a bit) to the west is half as large, although only half a magnitude fainter, and shaped like a greek letter Theta - a circle of spiral arms around a bright core bisected by a glowing bar of stars.

A bit more than the separation of the two spirals, north of M96, you'll find the elliptical galaxy M105 (a.k.a. NGC 3379). This galaxy has no spiral arms, just a soft oval form composed, of course, of billions of stars. All three galaxies lie at the same distance of the M65 group: 29 million light years.

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