People have long looked at the night sky, some - admiring the stars, some - in search of answers to any questions, and some - dreaming of discovering new planets and stars. And all of them can easily see the Virgo constellation - it is located in the southern part of the firmament, closer to the horizon. Since this cluster of stars was discovered in the sky, it has greatly interested humanity. However, since powerful telescopes appeared, this interest only increased, because in no other constellation there is such a large number of binary stars, nebulae, galaxies of various classifications and stars of different physical quantities, luminosity, significance. And although you can study any constellations in the sky, Virgo is of particular interest to scientists.
On a clear night, on a new moon, this cluster of stars can be observed without equipment, as bright as it is - it includes more than 95 stars. The brightest star in the Virgo constellation is Spica.
It is necessary to mentally connect all the bright stars of the required part of the sky, as it turns out a broken quadrilateral - a recognized figure of the heavenly Maiden. Of course, this image does not look like that beautiful winged girl, which was depicted in antiquity on astronomical maps. But in this connection we can only wonder at the rich imagination of the ancient astronomers.
In Egypt, it was only the time of the harvest, when this equatorial constellation appeared in the sky. It is probably for this reason that the brightest stars in the cluster are called “reapers”.
The Virgo constellation is also astonishing because among its stars is the satellite Y, which is considered a variable star. In this amazing celestial cluster, you can see both variable stars and several double ones, but you will be able to see all this with a fairly strong telescope.
The ancient Greeks could not explain the appearance of stars from a scientific point of view, but they came up with a beautiful fairy tale - this is how the legend about the constellation Virgo appeared.
In the mythology of the Greeks, this constellation personifies Demeter - the goddess of fertility. The Greeks were confident that it patronized farmers, activating the growth of plants, promoting the formation and ripening of fruits and vegetables, teaching people to cultivate their lands properly.
According to mythology, Demeter had a daughter from Zeus - Persephone. When the young goddess from a child grew up in an incredibly beautiful girl, her father decided to marry her brother - Aida. As the wife of the king of the dead, Persephone would have been forced to leave the earth forever, settling in the underworld.
However, Hades was sure that Persephone would not marry voluntarily, so she kidnapped her, using the services of Hera, she created an incredibly beautiful flower that grew in the places where Persephone walks. At that moment, when the beautiful girl leaned toward the flower, the earth beneath her opened up, Hades appeared on his chariot and took the girl to her kingdom.
Demeter very hard endured the disappearance of his only daughter. Her tears flowed in a continuous stream, and she retired from Olympus to Earth. This greatly influenced all the plants of the Earth - the trees lost their leaves, the plants withered. Hunger and death approached the Earth, but Demeter didn’t care, because she was only able to think about her unhappy daughter. So the first time came autumn.
Zeus was able to understand how great Demeter's love for his daughter was, he saw that her sorrow could kill life on Earth. He ordered his wife to return to Olympus, but she could not do it, because she swore without a daughter not to return to the world of the gods.
Zeus had to be commanded to live on Olympus for 8 months, and only for 4 months with Hades in his underground possession.
That is why all spring blooms - Persephone returns from the kingdom of Hades and her mother rejoices, giving life to everything on Earth. When the daughter should return to her husband - the mother begins to feel sad again, causing the arrival of autumn and winter.
When the constellation Virgo ascended, the inhabitants of ancient Greece were sure that it was Demeter who came to help them in their writings. Taking up the harvest, they were confident that the goddess would send them high yields for their burden.
This equatorial constellation, on the one hand of which you can find the constellation Leo, on the other - Libra. In addition, it is here that the point of the autumn equinox is located. Each star is especially clearly visible in the Virgo constellation in the spring - it was at this time that the Virgo is located quite high, mostly in the southern part of the sky.
Without special equipment, Virgo can be observed only on clear nights when there is no moon. Despite the large number of stars in the Virgin's figure, not all of them are visible, but only the brightest. This constellation is best seen in March-April, and it is available for observation throughout the territory of our country.
It is curious that the Virgo constellation in the spring sky is one of the largest. It occupies about 3% of the entire starry sky and more than only the Hydra constellation.
Currently, the constellation has more than 130 stars, whereas until recently it was believed that Virgo consists of "only" 95. Most of the stars are too small, you can only see them in a very powerful telescope. It is for this reason that you see the Virgo as a quadrilateral from the Earth with the naked eye, while a conventional girl with arms outstretched becomes visible in a telescope. She seems to be lying in the sky, turning her back to the sky. Interestingly, Spica, which constitutes the Necklace of the Virgin, is located not at all in the head area of the constellation, but rather the opposite - it is located just below the conditional back of the heavenly Virgin.
The star of the first magnitude, the only one of this cluster. Of all the visible stars, Speke is in 16th place in its brightness. Its name is translated from Greek as “ear of wheat”, which Demeter holds in his hands (the ancient Arabs called this star Acimeh - “high star”).
Spica is 260 light years from the Sun. It is composed of two parts, exceeding in diameter our Sun by 7.8 and 4 times each of them. At the same time, the brightness of the Speke is 1000 times greater than that of the Sun. Spike is also interesting because its components are practically indistinguishable from each other in terms of luminosity, composition, and physical characteristics. When the star was just being observed, it seemed that it was an ordinary star, and only with the development of more powerful telescopes it became clear that there were two stars. The difference in their circulation is only 4 days.
Spica enters a magnificent asterism called the “Necklace of the Virgin.” In addition, it is one of the navigation stars.
The second brightest star. Her name means the goddess of prophecy. It is the closest double star to Earth, it is located only 32 light years from us. Its orbit is unusually extended.
Designation of stars
Stars that differ in brightness, called "reapers", because their sunrise coincided with the beginning of the harvest in ancient Egypt.
The ancient Romans called the “vineyard” a star located at the highest point of the Virgin, because it arose when the time came for the grapes to ripen.
How to find a Virgo
Although in Russia, the constellation Virgo can be seen from any point, not everyone knows how to find it in the sky.
If you want to see Virgo, you need to discover the “parachute” - the original drawing of the constellation Watersac with its bright star Arcturus. On the southern slope of the sky in the spring it is easy to find. And it is under this “parachute” that the Deva is revealed.
Starting the search is convenient and from the constellation of Leo - you need to look for his brightest star, which shines next to Spika.
In the spring sky, the easiest way to find the constellation we need is if we mentally draw a plumb from the handle of Ursa Major. This conditional line will be slightly to the right of Spica, piercing the constellation pattern.
Curious objects nearby
Near the constellation you can find an interesting elliptical galaxy, which has a fairly high brightness.
Spiral galaxy, observed in powerful telescopes. In 1989, the formation of 2 stars was discovered in this galaxy.
Lenticular galaxy. Observations on it allowed us to notice how from time to time certain gases are pulled out of the nucleus, leading to the fact that we see a foggy region-sphere.