Since the upcoming new moon is Messier Marathon time, I decided this latest observing challenge ought to be an object that won’t take you too far away from the Messiers. So, I introduce you to NGC 3628, the third member of the famed “Leo Trio” which also includes Messier objects M65 and M66. NGC 3628 is somewhat fainter than the two Messiers, but still probably could have been bright enough for Messier to view, though there is no record of him observing it. Instead, 3628 was discovered by William Herschel in 1784, four years after Messier’s discovery of the other two galaxies. Though it is the faintest of the three galaxies, 3628 is probably the most visually interesting. It is edge-on to us, with a very prominent dust lane. It is also quite irregular in shape, giving us insight into a violent past for the galaxy, likely a past interaction with the other two galaxies. You can find 3628, along with M65 and M66, about halfway in between Theta (θ) and Iota (ι) Leonis.
The HAS VSIG would love to hear about your own visual observations of NGC 2261. Send them to Ed Fraini at [email protected] or just share them to the VSIG list server (contact Ed to subscribe to that list also).