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Virgo - the Virgin


Mythology - This constellation has been equated with the earth mother archetype ever since Mesopotamian times when both Sala and Nana were worshipped as fertility symbols. In Egypt this was one representation of Isis, the goddess of fertility and agriculture. The summer solstice used to take place in this constellation between 4000 and 6000 years ago, lending it the resonance of harvest time. To the Greeks this was the figure of Demeter (also Ceres) the earth mother, whose daughter Core (Persephone) was abducted and married by Hades, lord of the underworld. In her grief, Demeter stopped all plants from growing, and when Zeus intervened a compromise was made whereby Core would spend 3 months of the year in the dark kingdom and the other 9 months above ground, thus giving us the Winter when all growth is suspended. Later on of course, we have the virgin Mary.
Stars - Porrima (gamma virginis) was an easy telescopic double star in the 1920s but both stars are moving very close together for the next 40 years. After that they will become a fairly easy target for small telescopes.
Deepsky - Virgo is a fertile hunting ground for galaxy observers, mainly because we are looking in a direction at right angles to the dusty, obscuring plane of our galaxy. All the following are capable of being picked up in binoculars on clear nights (away from the Moon or any light pollution): M49, M60, M86, M87, M90 and M104 (the Sombrero Galaxy).
Visibility - Virgo is visible best between April and June