Virgo Constellation
virgo constellation
The bright star indicated here is Spica, the fifteenth brightest star in the night star.
Virgo Constellation Facts
  • Virgo is the second largest constellation and is visible in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres.
  • In the Northern hemisphere Virgo can be seen from March to July.
  • In the Southern hemisphere the constellation can be viewed in the Autumn and Winter months, it will appear upside down in comparison with the Northern hemisphere.
  • The constellation of Virgo is highly populated with galaxies, there are several galaxy clusters located within its boundaries, each of which is home to hundreds or even thousands of galaxies.
  • One galaxy in Virgo which is not part of a galaxy cluster is the famous and spectacular Sombrero Galaxy, one of the brightest known galaxies and visible through an amateur telescope or binoculars.
  • Many planets have been discovered orbiting stars in the constellation, including an enormous gas giant with over 10 times the mass of Jupiter.
  • Virgo is also one of the twelve signs of the astrological zodiac.
  • Virgo has been recognized as a constellation for at least 3,000 years.

Virgo Mythology

virgo mythology
An artistic representation of Virgo, although it is uncertain who she actually represents.
As with many constellations Virgo's mythology is complex with many different variations on its origins. One rather morbid tale involves the young female character Erigone from Greek mythology. Her father was Icarius, a farmer and friend of the God of Wine Dionysis. One day Dionysis offered wine to Icarius and his shepherds to honor their friendship. Unfortunately his shepherds had never drank alcohol before and mistakenly thought they had been poisoned, they took revenge by killing Icarius in a drunken rage.
Erigone later found her father’s body and couldn’t control her sorrow, she buried her father and hanged herself next to his grave. Dionysis was so angry with the crime he inflicted a horrific plague upon the city of Athens which caused the young single women to commit suicide. The plague was eventually lifted after the city honored both Icarius and his daughter. As a result Dionysis placed Erigone amongst the stars as Virgo and her father as the neighboring constellation of Bootes.

Main Stars in the Virgo Constellation
virgo constellation
The number next to each star is its apparent magnitude, its brightness from our point of view on Earth, the lower the number the brighter the star in the night sky.
Zavijah
Also know as Beta Virginis, Zavijah is a yellow-white main sequence star around 35 light years from Earth, it has around 25% more mass than the sun and is almost 70% larger in radius.
Zaniah
Also known as Eta Virginis, Zaniah is a three star system around 265 light years from Earth, the primary star has a mass 2.5 times greater than that of the sun with surface temperatures more than 50% hotter.
Porrima
Also known as Alpha Virginis, Porrima appears as single star in the night sky but is actually a binary system 38 light years from Earth, together both stars produce an apparent magnitude of 2.74, making Porrima the second brightest star in the constellation.
Auva
Also known as Delta Virginis, Auva is a red giant around 200 light years from Earth, it has 50% more mass than the sun but is almost 50 times larger in diameter.
Vindemiatrix
Also known as Epsilon Virginis, Vindemiatrix is a yellow giant around 110 light years from Earth, it has two and a half times the mass of the sun and 10 times larger in radius.
Heze
Also known as Zeta Virginis, Heze is a binary star system consisting of a blue-white main sequence star and a red dwarf companion, the primary blue-white star has twice the mass and twice the radius of the sun, the system is around 75 light years from Earth.
Spica
Also known as Alpha Virginis, Spica is by far the brightest star in the constellation and one of the brightest in the entire night sky. Spica is actually a binary star system around 260 light years from Earth consisting of two fairly massive stars. The primary star has 10 times the mass of the sun which is massive enough to generate a supernova at the end of its lifespan. This star is a blue giant with around 7.5 times the radius of the sun and is 12,000 times more luminous. The secondary star is a blue main sequence star with around 7 times the mass of the sun.

Finding Virgo - Northern Hemisphere
finding virgo northern hemisphere
The chart shows the position of Virgo over most of the United States in June at midnight. This chart can also be applied to other areas of the Northern hemisphere such as Canada, the UK and Europe.

In March and April Virgo will appear low on the eastern horizon around 9 to 10pm, by 1am it will be visible in the southern night sky before moving towards the western horizon.

In May and June the constellation will be visible in the southern sky around 10pm, over the next few hours it will be visible in the western night sky before beginning to dip below the horizon.

In July it will appear briefly in the western night sky between the hours of 10pm and 1am.

Finding Virgo - Southern Hemisphere
finding virgo southern hemisphere
The chart shows the position of Virgo over most of Australia in early autumn at 11pm. This chart can also be applied to other areas of the Southern hemisphere such as New Zealand, South Africa and South America. In the Southern hemisphere Andromeda is visible in the northern night sky.
In March Virgo becomes visible at around midnight low on the eastern horizon, by 4am it will be high in the northern night sky.
In April the constellation will appear low on the eastern horizon at around 9pm, by 1am it will be high in the northern night sky before heading towards the western horizon.
In May and June it will visible in the north-eastern night sky at around 8pm, gradually moving higher into the northern night sky before it starts to dip towards the western horizon.
In July and August Virgo can be seen in the north or north-western night sky from around 8pm, it begins to disappear below the western horizon at around 11pm to midnight.


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