The Virgin

Abbreviation: Vir
Genitive: Virginis

The constellation of Virgo

Virgo is a member of the zodiac. This is one of the most ancient of constellations, harking back to Babylonia where it represented fertility. The Greeks and Romans often associated their goddesses of agriculture (Demeter/Ceres) with this figure.

The Virgo Cluster is a cluster of galaxies which falls within the boundaries of this constellation, making Virgo a excellent place for observing our extragalactic neighbours.

Notable Features

Designation Name Description
α Vir Spica Representing an ear of grain, Spica is a first magnitude star.
β Vir Zavijava
γ Vir Porrima Porrima is the name of the Roman goddess of the future.
ε Vir Vindemiatrix
η Vir Zaniah
ι Vir Syrma
FI Vir This eleventh magntude star is 11 light years away from the solar system, making it one of our nearest neighbours. It appears on the sky map very near Zavijava.
PSR B1257+12 Lich Much to the scientific community's astonishment, at least three exoplanets still orbit this pulsar. It is located near Vindemiatrix on the sky map.
M49 The elliptical galaxy was the first member of the Virgo Cluster to be discovered. It is the brightest member of the group.
M58 A barred spiral galaxy, it is one of the brighter members of the Virgo Cluster of galaxies.
M59 At the heart of this elliptical galaxy lurks a supermassive black hole. M59 is also a member of the Virgo Cluster.
M60 Also a member of the Virgo Cluster, this elliptical galaxy has several satellite galaxies of its own.
M61 This barred spiral is one of the larger members of the Virgo Cluster.
M84 M84 is a lenticular galaxy located in the inner core of the Virgo Cluster of galaxies.
M86 Another lenticular galaxy in the heart of the Virgo Cluster, M86 has thousands of globular clusters.
M87 Virgo A A supergiant elliptical galaxy, it is one of the brightest members of the Virgo Cluster. At its core is a supermassive black hole which is responsible for this galaxy being one of the brightest radio sources in the sky.
M89 Although an elliptical galaxy, M89's shape is, in fact, nearly spherical. It too is a member of the Virgo Cluster of galaxies.
M90 This is a member of the Virgo Cluster and is one of the biggest and brightest spiral galaxies known.
M104 Sombrero Galaxy This magnificent spiral galaxy appears nearly edge-on to our line of sight. Unlike the previously mentioned objects, the Sombrero Galaxy is not a member of the Virgo Cluster.
C52 C52 is an elliptical galaxy which requires a telescope to observe it.
3C 273 This is the first and (so far) brightest quasar discovered, and is likely the most distant celestial object that can be seen with amateur equipment. It is located south of M61 on the sky map.