English Name: The Virgin
Hemisphere: Northern Hemisphere
Location: Between the constellations of Libra and Leo.
Visible between latitudes: +80 and -80 degrees
Best season: Spring
Seen in three seasons: Winter, Spring and Summer.
Best seen in: May
Seen between: March and June.
Right Ascension (RA): 13 hour
Declination (DEC): +00 degrees
Area (square degrees): 1,294 (2nd)
Virgo (The Virgin)
- Virgo is the largest constellation of the zodiac and the second largest, after Hydra (The Water Snake) of all 88 constellations. It lies on the celestial equator between Leo and Libra, and our Sun passes through the constellation from 16 September to 31st October.
- Virgo is one of the richest areas for faint galaxies including nine Messier objects and the Virgo Cluster – it contains few bright stars, few variables and double stars. Being well away from the Milky-Way, so it has no open clusters or diffuse nebulae.
- There is one globular cluster, and all the planetary nebulae are very faint.
- In the northwestern part of the Virgo Constellation – the cluster extends into Coma Berenices, hence the fact that it is sometimes known as the Virgo-Coma Cluster – unfortunately, most of these galaxies are faint.
- M49 – Elliptical Galaxy; massive and brightest in the Virgo Cluster. (Magnitude: +8.4)
- M58 – Spiral Galaxy; looking like a faint star because of the nucleus is readily visible with 3-inch telescope – larger telescopes show the spiral arms as a hazy elliptical area. (Magnitude: +9.8)
- M60 – Elliptical Galaxy; detected as an almost perfectly circular patch with 3-inch telescope.
- M61 – Spiral Galaxy; larger, it is visible, but faint with 3-inch telescopes. Larger telescopes show it to be almost circular with a thick nucleus.
- M84 – Elliptical Galaxy; small bright centre is readily seen with 3-inch telescopes, but the faint outer regions require a much larger telescopes.
- M86 – Elliptical Galaxy; slightly larger but otherwise similar to M84 and also readily seen with 3-inch.
- M87 – Elliptical Galaxy; giant galaxy! – easily seen even with small telescopes, this large, massive galaxy lies close to the heart of the Virgo Cluster.
- M90 – Spiral Galaxy; Like M58 and M84 – the bright nucleus is readily seen with 3-inch telescopes but the outer arms require a large telescopes.
- M104 – Spiral Galaxy; the Sombrero Galaxy – it gains its popular name from it s appearance from 6-inch telescopes or more, when it exhibits a thick dark lane of dust in its galactic plane. (Its elongated shape is just detectable with binoculars.)
Features of Interest
- NGC 5634 – Globular Cluster; bright – just visible with 3-inch telescopes, but requires 8-inch to be fully resolved.
- Spica (Alpha Vir)
- Zavijah (Beta Vir)
- Porrima (Gamma Vir)
- Auva (Delta Vir)
- Vindemiatrix (Epsilon Vir)
- Heze (Zeta Vir)
- Zaniah (Eta Vir)
- Syrma (Iota Vir)
- Rijl al Awwa (Mu Vir)
- Photo of the constellation; Virgo, as it appears to the naked eye. (Lines have been added for clarity.)
- Sky Chart – Virgo
- List of stars in Virgo.
Back to The 88 Constellations Lists page.