Virgo & Saturn

Virgo and Saturn - II

In the spring of 2012, the planet Saturn was visible as a bright yellow 'star' in the constellation Virgo. Over the course of several months, Saturn's position slowly changed against the background stars of Virgo.

In the image above, Saturn is the bright yellow 'star'. To the south of Saturn is Virgo's brightest star Spica. The diagram to the right illustrates the outline of Virgo as well as the positions of Saturn and Spica.

Virgo is a Zodiacal constellation otherwise known as the Virgin. It is one of the 48 Greek constellations originally described by the 2nd century astronomer Claudius Ptolemy (Wikipedia). Virgo remains one of the 88 modern constellations defined by the International Astronomical Union (Wikipedia).

Virgo (abbrev. = Vir; genitive = Virginis) covers 1294 square degrees or 3.14% of the celestial sphere making it the 2nd largest constellation. It contains 169 stars brighter than apparent magnitude 6.5, the brightest star being Spica. See the Virgo Star Chart for a figure illustrating this constellation including the identification of its brighter stars.

For more information see the entries for Virgo at Wikipedia and U. Wisconsin. For a chart of Virgo, see Vir (IAU).

For more images of interesting planetary alignments, see Conjunctions Gallery. An almanac of other major sky happenings for each year can be found at Calendar of Astronomical Events.

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