International Astronomical Union Circular 6627 reported the discovery on Apr. 15, 1997 of a supernova in M-66. It was rather faint at 17th magnitude. The Circular said: "A CCD spectrogram, obtained with the Lick 3-m Shane reflector on Apr. 16 shows that the object is a peculiar type-II supernova (formally known as type IIn), dominated by relatively narrow Balmer emission lines on a featureless continuum. There are also many weaker Fe II emission lines".
The Kopernik image shown here was taken on May 5th, 1997, using our 20 inch telescope.
Barred spiral galaxy M-66 is part of a bright triplet of spiral galaxies in Leo. One companion is M-65 (about 180,000 l.y. separation ), while the other is NGC 3628; All three are part of the Leo galaxy group, 30,000,000 light years away. M-66 contains about 130 Billion solar masses. It was discovered by P. Mechain in March 1780.
Quote from the Deep Sky Field Guide to Uranometria 2000:
Small, very bright nucleus in a complex bar and lens with many dark lanes; two main arms.
Quote from A.Sandage’s The Hubble Atlas Of Galaxies:
......contains a great deal of dust. Since dust cannot be detected in galaxies unless it is silhouetted against a bright background, it shows best in galaxies that are highly inclined to the line of sight. ..... The dust pattern in NGC 3627 is particularly heavy. The lane going from the southeast to the northeast is located on the inner edge of the luminous spiral arm. The lane associated with the opposite arm bisects the luminous matter........
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George Normandin, KAS
May 29th, 1998
Revised: May 27th 2001