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See VIRGO (physics) for a French-Italian project in physics.

Virgo (♍, and Latin for virgin) is a constellation of the zodiac. Lying between Leo to the west and the Libra to the east, it is one of the largest constellations in the sky. It can be easily found through its bright α star, Spica.


Notable features

The most prominent star in Virgo is Spica (α Vir), which was sometimes considered to represents an ear of wheat in Virgo's hand. Spica makes it easy to locate Virgo, as it can be found by following the curve of the Big Dipper to Arcturus in Boötes and continuing from there in the same curve ("follow the arc to Arcturus and speed on to Spica").

Other bright stars in Virgo include Zavijah (β Vir), Porrima (γ Vir), Auva (δ Vir) and Vindemiatrix (ε Vir). Other fainter stars which were also given a name are Heze (ζ Vir), Zaniah (η Vir), Syrma (ι Vir) and Rijl al Awwa (μ Vir).

The star 70 Virginis is an extrasolar planetary system with one confirmed planet 6.6 times the mass of Jupiter.

Notable deep sky objects

Because of the presence of a galaxy cluster (consequently called the Virgo cluster) within its borders 5° to 10° west of Vindemiatrix (ε Vir), this constellation is especially rich in galaxies.

Some examples are M49 (elliptical), M58 (spiral), M59 (elliptical), M60 (elliptical), M61 (spiral), M84 (elliptical), M86 (elliptical), M87 (elliptical and a famous radiosource), and M90 (spiral). A noted galaxy that is not part of the cluster is M104, an elliptical galaxy also called the Sombrero Galaxy. It is located about 10° due west of Spica.


Who exactly Virgo was considered to represent is uncertain; in history, it has been associated with nearly every prominent goddess, including Ishtar, Isis, Cybele, and Athena. Virgo may also feature, along with Ursa Major, and Ursa Minor, as part of the source of the myth of Callisto, either as Callisto herself, or as Hera. Persephone (who in some mythologies, notably the Eleusinian Mysteries, was considered to be a form of Demeter) is often mentioned as well, Virgo being visible mainly in the spring months when she was believed to have risen from the underworld.

According to one interpretation, the constellation depicts Astraea, the virgin daughter of the god Zeus and the goddess Themis. Astraea was known as the goddess of justice, and was identified as this constellation due to the presence of the scales of justice Libra nearby, and supposedly ruled the world at one point with her wise ways until mankind became so callous that she returned to skies in disgust.


The astrological sign Virgo (August 23 - September 22) is associated with the constellation. In some cosmologies, Virgo is associated with the classical element Earth, and thus called an Earth Sign (with Taurus and Capricorn). It is also one of the mutable signs (along with Gemini, Sagittarius, and Pisces). Its ruling planet is Mercury. Its polar opposite is Pisces. Each astrological sign is assigned a part of the body, viewed as the seat of its power. Virgo rules the intestines. The symbol for Virgo is the virgin or maiden. Virgo qualities include an ability to organize, attention to cleanliness, extreme restlessness, selflessness, a desire for service, and an ability to get things done. Negatively, Virgo can be very critical.

Famous Virgos: Lance Armstrong, Franz Beckenbauer, Ingrid Bergman, Leonard Bernstein, Warren Buffett, Agatha Christie, Sean Connery, David Copperfield, Cameron Diaz, Gloria Estefan, Michael Faraday, Carly Fiorina, Greta Garbo, Henry George, Richard Gere, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Hugh Grant, Ryan Phillippe, Selma Hayek, Buddy Holly, Ivan the Terrible, Michael Jackson, Lyndon Baines Johnson, Tommy Lee Jones, Michael Keaton, Joseph P. Kennedy, Ken Kesey, Beyoncé Knowles, Karl Lagerfeld, D.H. Lawrence, John Locke, Sophia Loren, King Louis XIV, Queen Elizabeth I, Ludacris, Maurice Maeterlinck, Van Morrison, Bill Murray, Nas, Cardinal Richelieu, LeAnn Rimes, Pink, Adam Sandler, Claudia Schiffer, Romy Schneider, Bruce Springsteen, William Howard Taft, Mother Teresa, Leo Tolstoy, Shania Twain, Herbert George Wells, Hank Williams, William Carlos Williams, Richard Wright, and Carl Zeiss.

See Also

Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04