Virgo, the Virgin (Vir)
The Southern constellation of Virgo, the Virgin, is best viewed in Spring during the month of May.
Virgo is the 2nd largest constellation. It's brightest star is Spica at magnitude 0.98. The boundary of the Virgo constellation contains 32 stars that host known exoplanets.
Virgo is an equatorial constellation, which means its bulk intersects the celestial equator or comes within 10-15 degrees of doing so. Virgo is visible from most places on Earth.
converging black holes
- Constellation Family:
- 80° N - 80° S
- Best viewing month*:
- 1294 sq. degrees
- 2nd largest
- Right Ascension (avg):
- 13h 21m
- Declination (avg):
- Brightest star:
- Spica (0.98)
- Stars with planets:
Brightest Stars in Virgo
The 10 brightest stars in the constellation Virgo by magnitude.
- Spectral class
- Alpha Virginis (α Vir)
- Gamma Virginis (γ Vir A)
- Epsilon Virginis (ε Vir)
- Zeta Virginis (ζ Vir)
- Delta Virginis (δ Vir)
- Beta Virginis (β Vir)
- Gamma Virginis (γ Vir B)
- Virginis (109 Vir)
- Mu Virginis (μ Vir)
- Eta Virginis (η Vir)
Double Stars in Virgo
These are the brightest and easiest-to-find double, triple, and quadruple star systems in the constellation Virgo. Also see all star clusters.
- Star system
- Gamma Virginis
- 3.5, 3.5
Star Clusters in Virgo
The most notable and easy-to-find star clusters in the constellation Virgo . Also see all star clusters.
Nebulae in Virgo
Notable and easy-to-find nebulae in the constellation Virgo . Also see all nebulae.
- Nebula name
- Catalog #
- Nebula type
- Abell 36
Galaxies in Virgo
The most notable, famous, and easy-to-find galaxies in the constellation Virgo . Also see all galaxies.
Milky Way Satellites in Virgo
Dwarf satellite galaxies that orbit the Milky Way Galaxy located in the constellation Virgo. Also see all Milky Way satellite galaxies.
- Galaxy name
- Alt name
- Virgo Dwarf
Neutron Stars in Virgo
These are the most well-known neutron stars in the constellation Virgo. Although neutron stars cannot be seen in any amateur telescope, they are at the center of many supernova remnant nebulae, which can be seen. Also see all neutron stars.
- Neutron star
Black Holes in Virgo
These are the most well-known smaller (non-supermassive) black holes in the constellation Virgo. Although black holes cannot be seen directly, the smaller ones are at the center of some star clusters and supernova remnant nebulae, which can be seen. Supermassive black holes are at the center of most galaxies, such as Sagittarius A* at the center of our Milky Way galaxy. Also see all black holes.
- Black hole
- PKS 1302-102
The Maiden of the Night Sky
Among the 88 constellations recognized by the International Astronomical Union (IAU), Virgo stands out due to its historical significance, rich array of celestial bodies, and connection to the zodiac.
The Virgo constellation has a long history in human culture and mythology, dating back to ancient civilizations. In Greek mythology, it is often associated with Demeter, the goddess of harvest, or her daughter Persephone, the goddess of spring. In Roman mythology, Virgo is linked to Astraea, the virgin goddess of Justice.
Location and Main Characteristics
Virgo is located in the third quadrant of the southern hemisphere (SQ3), yet it is observable in both hemispheres. It's surrounded by the constellations Bo?tes, Coma Berenices, Corvus, Crater, Hydra, Leo, Libra, and Serpens Caput. Being the second-largest constellation in the sky, it covers an impressive area of 1294 square degrees. The best time to observe Virgo is during culmination in May.
Significant Stars in Virgo
Spica, Alpha Virginis, is the brightest star in the constellation Virgo, and the 16th brightest star in the night sky. It's a spectroscopic binary and rotates rapidly, with a period of four days. The primary star is a blue giant, about 2,300 times more luminous than our Sun.
Virgo is also home to many other bright stars, including Porrima (Gamma Virginis), a binary star system that was named after an ancient Roman goddess, and Zavijava (Beta Virginis), a spectral class F9 V yellow-white dwarf located relatively close to our solar system, only 35.65 light-years away.
Deep-Sky Objects in Virgo
Virgo is most renowned for the Virgo Cluster, a massive galaxy cluster that contains up to 2,000 galaxies. This makes it a treasure trove for amateur and professional astronomers alike.
The most famous galaxies in the Virgo Cluster include the bright elliptical galaxy Messier 49 and the spiral galaxy Messier 58. Other notable galaxies are Messier 59 and Messier 60, both elliptical galaxies, and the Sombrero Galaxy (M104), an unbarred spiral galaxy known for its sombrero-like appearance.
Since Virgo is one of the zodiac constellations, it's relatively easy to locate in the sky. In the Northern Hemisphere, it's best seen in the late spring and early summer. For those in the Southern Hemisphere, Virgo is best observed in autumn and early winter.
The best way to locate Virgo is by finding its brightest star, Spica. An easy method is to follow the arc of the Big Dipper's handle until you reach a bright blue-white star - that's Spica. The broad and scattered pattern of Virgo's stars can make the constellation slightly challenging to identify, but Spica's brightness serves as a useful guide.
Spanning a large area of the sky, Virgo the Maiden is more than just a zodiac constellation. Its historical significance, coupled with the wealth of celestial bodies it contains, makes Virgo a fascinating constellation for both astronomers and stargazers. As you delve deeper into the cosmos, Virgo serves as a reminder of the intricate balance between mythology, astronomy, and the exploration of our universe.
* Constellation shown for northen hemisphere skies. For the southern hemisphere, constellations appear rotated 180 degrees (upside-down and left-right reversed) from what is shown. Remember that seasons are reversed too - summer in northern latitudes is winter in southern latitudes.
** Circumpolar constellations are visible year-round in the hemisphere listed (and not at all in the opposite hemisphere).