Messier 66 (also known as NGC 3627) is an intermediate spiral galaxy about 36 million light-years away in the constellation Leo. It was discovered by Charles Messier in 1780. M66 is about 95 thousand light-years across with striking dust lanes and bright star clusters along sweeping spiral arms. Messier 66 is known primarily for its asymmetrical spiral arms, which indicate that the galaxy experienced turbulent times in its recent history; The most likely scenario involves a gravitational encounter with another member of the Leo Triplet group. Such an encounter would account for the high concentration of star forming regions seen all throughout its spiral arms.
This image is 5.5 hours of exposure over two nights ending April 24, 2015. I’m using my new STF8300m camera controlled by CCDAutopilot. Click on the photo for a more detailed view.