Tuesday, June 21, 2011

More About Virgo

Spica is the real star of Virgo. Her rising marked to official beginning of Spring and the planting season. She has been called the "Queen Star of the Spring," and the "Star of Prosperity," but literally means "Ear of Wheat" which Virgo is holding in her left hand. The Egyptians built many temples to Spica's movement. At key times in the year, the light of Spica would penetrate deep shafts in these temples like in that Indiana Jones movie. The star is a brilliant blue-white in color and lies 260 light years away - or 1,508,000,000,000,000 miles! It is a binary star - meaning it is really two stars revolving around each other.

Vindemiatrix is the second brightest star lying north of Spica. Vindemiatrix means, "Grape Gatherer" because it rises in the morning before the time of the vintage. The star lies 100 light years away and is a yellow giant.

Near Vindemiatrix rest many galaxies. Look a little to the right of Vindemiatrix with a large telescope and see what you can find. One of the largest galaxies around is called M87 and is located in Virgo. The Hubble Telescope caught this picture of it with a jet of material streaming out. To many astronomers this indicated the presence of a super-massive black hole in the center of M87