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Virgo, The Virgin Constellation

Virgo (Pronounciation:Vir-go, Abbrev:Vir, Latin:Virginis) is a constellation, one of 88 constellations that the night sky is divided into. The sky is not divided up equally between the constellations. Virgo takes up 1294.428 sq. degrees of the night sky which equates to 3.14% of the night sky. The constellation gets its name as it name means The Virgin . The constellation is one of the original constellations that was devised by the Ancient Greco-Egyptian astronomer Ptolemy who lived between 90 A.D. and 168 A.D.

Virgo is a member constellation of the Zodiac grouping, a group of 12 star signs that astrologers use to predict someones future based on their date of birth and which constellation appeared when the Sun set. The Zodiac year may be divided up equally between the twelve signs but when they appear in the night sky no longer conforms to the Zodiac calendar. Virgo is an equatorial constellation that can be seen by countries nearest the Equator.

The brightest star in Virgo is Spica. There are 49 Extrasolar Planets (Exoplanets) in this constellation that are detailed on this site. There is a dedicated page for exoplanets in Virgo. The current largest star so far identified in the constellation of Virgo is RU Virginis. For a list of named stars, that is stars that don't start HD or HIP, please visit Virgo Star List Page.

Virgo Star and Deep Space Object Count

The number of stars that have been catalogued as part of the Hipparcos Star Catalogue from Virgo is 2864. The number of stars that are of magnitude 6.0 or lower in the constellation is 98. The number of stars in the constellation that make up the outline is 10.

There are 11 deep space objects that were identified by Charles Messier in this constellation. There are 1 non-Messier deep space objects that are covered on this site and the list is below.

Stars of Interest

The nearest star to Earth is HIP 57548 which is roughly about 10.94 Light Years from the Earth. The nearest star to the Earth with an exoplanet is 61 Virginis which is about 27.9 Light Years. The furthest star that can be located in the constellation is HIP 63671 which is located about 326163.3 Light Years away from the Sun. The furthest figure is derived from either the 1997 or 2007 Hipparcos star catalogue parallax figure and it has been known to produce distances that are wrong.

The dimmest star that can be seen in Virgo with the naked eye is 92 G. Virginis. The dim star has an apparent magnitude of 6. The dimmest star that a person is able to see with their naked eye is 6.0 magnitude based on the table in the reference. Ref: University of Michigan

The caveat of these stars are that they are catalogued on this site. If you know of a star that is nearer or further then do let me know in the comments and I'll add it to the site. The stars mentioned are from the Hipparcos catalogue or have been added because of their special status.

IC1101, Largest Galaxy Discovered So Far

The largest galaxy so far discovered is known as IC 1101, it makes our galaxy, the milky way look so insignificant. Our galaxy is about 100,000 light years across but the IC1101 is reckoned to be 2 million light years radius. The location is controversial as some people put the galaxy in Virgo whilst others put it in Serpens. For here, I've chosen to put it in Virgo. The galaxy has grown large in part to it cannibalising other galaxies. It is an old, dying galaxy. Whilst there might be some star generation going on, most stars on their way out.

Sombrero Galaxy

The Sombrero Galaxy got its name from looking like a Sombrero, the flatness of the constellation as opposed to it looking like a ball and the central supermassive black hole at the centre of the galaxy. The galaxy is side onto us which gives it its flat nature. It is a galaxy with a lot of gas and star creation going on.

Size of Virgo

Virgo is the second largest constellation in the skies in area taken up. The largest of all constellations is Hydra which it not being a Zodiac sign means that Virgo not being the largest constellation false stop is the largest Zodiac constellation. Virgo accounts for 3.14% of the night sky.

Legend of the Constellation

It is believed the constellation represents Astraea, the virgin daughter of the god Zeus and the goddess Themis. She was a goddess of truth and justice because the scales were nearby. She ruled the world at one time but as man grew callous, she returned to the skies as a constellation.

Meteor Showers

There are 35 Meteor Showers that occur during the year within this constellation based on information gathered from Adam Mickiewicz University (Poland). The ones listed as the ones I've been able to find a date range for. For others if you have the time, you can visit the AMU site, obtains the SL value then use IMO tables to calculate the date. A lot of the Meteor Showers are weak and you need to do a lot of stargazing to spot them.

NameActivityPeak ActivityClosest Star
Pi VirginidsFebruary 13-April 8Mar. 3-9Pi Virginis
Eta VirginidsFebruary 24-March 27Mar. 18/19Zaniah
Theta VirginidsMarch 10-April 21Mar. 20/21Caphir
Alpha VirginidsMarch 10-May 6Apr. 7-18Spica
Gamma VirginidsApril 5-21Apr. 14/15Porrima
Mu Virginids1-Apr - 12-May24 - AprRijl al Awwa

Virgo Facts

Is a Zodiac Sign Yes
Largest StarRU Virginis
Brightest StarSpica
Area1294.428 sq. deg.
Percentage of Night Sky3.14%
Size Position2nd
Hemisphere Equatorial
Site Exoplanet Count49
Meteor Shower Count35
Nearest StarHIP 57548
Nearest Star with Exoplanet(s)61 Virginis
Dimmest Star92 G. Virginis
Furthest StarHIP 63671
Bright Star Count98
Hipparcos Star Count2864
Main Star Count10
Messier Deep Space Object Count11
*Non-Messier Deep Space Object Count1
Bordering / Neighbouring / Surrounding ConstellationsComa Berenices

*Note: The number of Non-Messier Deep Space Object Count relates to how many are covered on this site not how many there are.

Virgo Constellation Map

Virgo Constellation Star Map

The map was generated using Night Vision, an awesome free application by Brian Simpson.

List of Deep Space Objects (Galaxies, Nebulas, Supernovas, etc) in Virgo

NameTypeDistanceDeclinationRight Ascension
IC 1101Elliptical Galaxy1.04 Billion +05:44:4115h 10m 56m 1s
Messier 49 (NGC4472)Elliptical Galaxy53,600-58,200 kilo+08:0012h 29m 8
Messier 58 (NGC4579)Spiral Galaxy~63,000 kly+11:4912h 37m 0
Messier 59 (NGC4621)Elliptical Galaxy55,000-65,000 kly+11:3912h 42m 0
Messier 60 (NGC4649)Elliptical Galaxy51,000-59,000 kly+11:3312h 43m 7
Messier 61 (NGC4303)Spiral Galaxy50,200-54,800 kly+04:2812h 21m 9
Messier 84 (NGC4374)Lenticular (S0) Galaxy57,000-63,000 kly+12:5312h 25m 1
Messier 86 (NGC3368)Lenticular (S0) Galaxy49,000-55,000 kly+12:5712h 26m 2
Messier 87 (NGC4486)Elliptical Galaxy51,870-55,130 kly+12:2412h 30m 8
Messier 89 (NGC4552)Elliptical Galaxy47,000-53,000 kly+12:3312h 35m 7
Messier 90 (NGC4569)Spiral Galaxy55,900-61,500 kly+13:1012h 36m 8
Sombrero Galaxy (M104, NGC4594)Spiral Galaxy28,700-30,900 kly-11:3712h 40m 0

Meteor Showers

Alpha Virginids Meteor Shower

Associated Comet1998 SH2?
Max Activity Date07 Apr
Activity PeriodMarch 10-May 6
Right Ascension203.5
Solar Longitude32
Alpha Radiant203.5

Gamma Virginids Meteor Shower

Max Activity Date14 Apr
Activity PeriodApril 5-21

Eta Virginids Meteor Shower

Associated CometD/1766 G1 (Helfenzrieder)?
Max Activity Date18 Mar
Activity PeriodFebruary 24-March 27
Right Ascension184.8
Solar Longitude357
Alpha Radiant184.8

Theta Virginids Meteor Shower

Associated Comet2011 HP4
Max Activity Date30 Mar
Activity PeriodMarch 10-April 21
Right Ascension196.9
Solar Longitude39.5
Alpha Radiant196.9

Mu Virginids Meteor Shower

Max Activity Date24 Apr
Activity Period1-Apr - 12-May
Right Ascension226.8
Solar Longitude39
Alpha Radiant226.8

Pi Virginids Meteor Shower

Max Activity Date03 Mar
Activity PeriodFebruary 13-April 8

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