Discovered 1780 by Charles Messier.
Located in the constellation Leo, M66 along with its close neighboring galaxies, M65 and NGC 3628, are know as the Leo Triplett. These galaxies are approximately 35 million light years distant. As can be seen in the image above, M66's spiral structure has been distorted by the gravitational interaction between itself and the neighboring galaxies. This interaction spawned considerable new star formation as can be deduced from the many "blue" areas in its spiral structure. M66's striking shape and appealing color make it a true celestial gem.