My main goal was to observe some Leo galaxies, including the very distant lenticular system NGC-3196, which is over 700 million light years away. Unfortunately, the seeing and the sky meant that galaxy will have to wait for a better night at a darker location. However, I had much better luck with the interacting galaxies NGC-3226 and 3227, which showed up easily at 227X. I could see how they are canted with respect to each other as well as the nearby galaxy 3222. NGC-3226 is oval with rapid brightening towards what appears to be a star like nucleus. NGC-3227 is more diffuse, larger and much more elongated with a bright inner region, It clearly is a spiral galaxy from its appearance through the telescope while NGC-3226 is an elliptical galaxy. NGC-3222 comfortably fit into the view at 227X with the other two. This E or S0 lenticular system I never noticed before until now, but it showed up as a lens shaped object with a brighter core. This galaxy is quite faint at a magnitude of 12.8, the other two galaxies shine at magnitudes 11.4 and 10.8 respectively. In one view, one can see a spiral, a flattened lenticular and an elliptical galaxy at one time. The interacting pair is 80 million light years away from us.
Another galaxy in Leo I was hoping to get a look at was the peculiar galaxy NGC-3239, but even though I was looking at it location it simply was not visible. Thus I will have to try for this one from a much darker area than the local club's observing site. I had much better luck with the NGC-3190 galaxy group which is also known as Hickson 44. Straight away the elliptical galaxy NGC-3193 and the inclined spiral galaxy NGC-3190 appeared in the field of view at 227X. With a few seconds more of scrutinizing the field, NGC-3185 soon appeared. Finally the very faint galaxy NGC-3187 revealed itself as a slash if light between three field stars. All four of these galaxies are related to one another and lie 60 million light years from Earth. NGC-3190 shines at magnitude 11.1 and shows an elongated oval shape in keeping with it's orientation with respect to our line of sight. I did glimpse a hint of its dust lane and saw it has a bright inner core. There is another galaxy superimposed on the outer reaches of NGC-3190 that shows up as a enhancement of the disk
s brightness known as NGC-3189. Very small and faint, it helps to make the dust lane more visible. NGC-3190 is also known as Arp 316 due to the very disturbed structure seen in photos. Nearby the elliptical galaxy NGC-3193 shines at 11.2 and shows a bright inner core and an oval outline. Also near NGC-3190 is the challenging barred spiral galaxy NGC-3187, which was seen only intermittently with averted vision. It shines at magnitude 12.7 but it's low surface brightness makes it look like a galaxy that is magnitude 13 or fainter. Finally the oval barred spiral galaxy NGC-3185 revealed a brighter core and a diffuse disk. It shines at magnitude 12 and shoed a brighter center surrounded by a fainter halo. This was the first time I noticed all five members of Hickson 44, though I did not know about the presence of NGC-3189.
Soon after observing Hickson 44, I tool the telescope down and drove home. Although the skies were not as clear as I hoped, they were much better than usual given the very rainy and cloudy weather during the past few years. I look forward to this weekend to look at more Leo galaxies as well as other objects.