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By Glenn Chaple

NGC 2964/2968 – Galaxies in Leo (NGC 2964 Mag: 11.3 Size: 3.0’ X 1.7’)
(NGC 2968 Mag: 11.8 Size 2.2’ X 1.5’)

As was the case last month, our Observer’s Challenge consists of a pair of galaxies – in this case, NGC 2964 and NGC 2968, located in the northwest corner of Leo above the Lion’s head. NGC 2964, an inclined spiral, is the brighter and slightly larger of the two. NGC 2968, classified as a lenticular galaxy, lies 5.8’ northeast.
A third galaxy, NGC 2970, is 4.6’ further northeast and appears in the upper left-hand corner of Mario Motta’s image below. With NGC 2964 and 2968, it forms what is sometimes called the Leo Triplet 2 or forgotten Leo Triplet (Leo Triplet 1 being consisted of the bgalaxies Messier 65, Messier 66, and NGC 3628). At 13th magnitude and less than 1.0’ in diameter, this elliptical galaxy appears almost star-like in large-aperture scopes.
NGC 2964 and NGC 2968 were discovered by William Herschel in 1785. The brighter NGC 2964 was designated as a H114¹, his 114th Class 1 (Bright Nebulae) object, while NGC 2968 was relegated to Class 2 (Faint Nebulae) and designated as H491². Herschel’s son, John, discovered NGC 2700 in 1828. NGC 2964 is believed to be 60 million light years away, while NGC 2968 and NGC 2970 are about 75 million light years distant.

Finder charts from

Image by Mario Motta M.D.

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