Constellation of Virgo (with Crater and Corvus)
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Virgo (with Crater and Corvus)
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Image and text ©2008 Akira Fujii/David Malin Images.

In the picture above north is at the top and the image covers 56.7 x 70.9 degrees.
Image centre is located at 13:04:10.3, -02:59:54 (H:M:S, D:M:S, J2000) Astrometric data from

Virgo (with Crater and Corvus)
Best seen in the early evening in May

Virgo (the Virgin) is usually associated with fertility and is often represented as a young woman holding a sprig of wheat in her left hand (the bright star Spica, alpha Virginis) and a palm leaf in her right. She is often thought of as Persephone, daughter of Demeter, the Greek harvest god. However, this pose is also that Astraea, the Roman goddess of justice, who is often depicted in statuary as holding the scales of justice, which are depicted on the sky in the neighbouring constellation of Libra, the Scales.

The north Galactic pole is in the adjoining constellation of Coma Berenices, so in this direction we see relatively few foreground stars or obscuring dust -- compare with Sagittarius, in the direction of the Galactic centre. It is very fortunate that the nearest rich galaxy cluster lies in Virgo, spilling over into Coma. It is about 65 million light years away and contains thousands of galaxies, some of which are listed under 'Related images' below.

Virgo has the second largest area of any constellation in the sky, about 1300 square degrees bested only slightly by adjoining Hydra. The ecliptic also passes through Virgo and the Sun is in the constellation from mid-September to early November, which includes the (northern) Autumnal equinox around September 23, when the Sun moves south of the celestial equator

Main named stars in Virgo: (Greek alphabet)
Auva (δ Vir), Heze (ζ Vir), Porrima (γ Vir), Rijl al Awwa (μ Vir), Spica (α Vir), Syrma (ι Vir), Vindemiatrix (ε Vir), Zaniah (η Vir), Zavijah (β Vir).

Adjoining constellations:   Boötes, Coma Berenices, Crater, Hydra, Leo, Libra, Serpens.

Related images (other sources -- see under 'Related Images' on the links below)
AAT 54.     NGC 4486, (M87) and its globular clusters
AAT 100.   M104, the Sombrero galaxy, NGC 4594
UKS 31.     The center of the Virgo Cluster, wide field

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David Malin, 2009 October 15