NGC 3344 -- Spiral Galaxy in Leo Minor
Biggest & Brightest Galaxy in the Little Lion
The constellation of the Little Lion (Leo Minor) does not standout in the night sky. Its dimmer
constellation stars just cannot compete with the Great Bear (Ursa Major) to the North and
the Lion (Leo) to the south. However, to ignore the Little Lion is a mistake, since it is full of
This morning was exceptional, it was warm enough that I did not need gloves, a cap or a coat.
There was no dew to contend with. The sky was clear and steady. Many a night from my
suburban backyard, using my 6-inch refractor, I have failed to find the brighter of the Little
Lion’s galaxies. But this morning’s four-hour observing session ended with drawings of
half-a-dozen galaxies in Leo Minor and a close double-star (Alula Australis) in Ursa Major. I
do not get better observing nights from my house.
Of all the galaxies that I visited NGC 3344 was the brightest and most detail of them all. It
was the first galaxy that I attempted to find – I assumed correctly that if I could not find
NGC 3344 all the other Little Lion’s galaxies were also beyond my reach. But as I said
earlier, it was a splendid night and I was a bit taken back when the galaxy first showed itself
in the eyepiece. There are two twelfth magnitude stars superimposed on NGC 3344 which
makes it easy to locate in the eyepiece. The galaxy core was distinctly brighter. Note - there
is a 14th magnitude star superimposed on the galaxy’s core that gives the false impression
that the center of the core is star-like. NGC 3344 was a fine start for the morning.