Give Mom a Diamond

   This Mother’s Day, weekend, or Sunday May 10th, give Mom or your favorite mother(s) a stellar treat by showing them a group of 4 stars making up a large star pattern known as the ‘Diamond of Virgo’.
   Step outside around mid-evening and look toward the east-southern horizon. Two of the four diamond stars are easily seen and may help serve as a guide to the other two diamond stars.
   Spica, a star in Virgo the Harvest Maiden, marks the lower corner of an *asterism known as ‘the Diamond of Virgo’. Look up to the left from Spica for the reddish star Arcturus in the kite-shaped constellation Bootes the Herdsman. Then look nearly straight up, the zenith, for the dimmest of the diamond stars, Cor Caroli in Canes Venatici, the Hunting Dogs. Then look down to the right for the star Denebola, the tail of Leo the Lion.
   

*An asterism is a group of stars forming a recognizable pattern using stars within a constellation or by combining stars from more than one constellation. For example, the Big and Little Dipper are asterisms.

   
   
   

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Moon – Spica Conjunction

   Tuesday evening May 5th the 12-day old waxing gibbous Moon will be about 7o from the blue-white star Spica in the constellation Virgo the Harvest Maiden.

   In illustrations of Virgo the star Spica represents a bundle of grasses (wheat, oats) held in her left hand.

   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

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Virgo Grabs for the Moon!


   Thursday morning January 13th the 20-day old waning gibbous Moon will be 6-7o from the blue-white star Spica in Virgo the Harvest Maiden.

   
   
   

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Mars on the Move

   Friday morning January 17th, before sunrise, the last quarter Moon will be about 5-6o from the blue-white star Spica in Virgo the Harvest Maiden. However the celestial highlight coming up is further east or lower and closer to the eastern horizon where there are two reddish-colored objects of about the same apparent brightness or magnitude. One object is the planet Mars and the other is the star Antares in Scorpius the Scorpion.

click on animated graphic to see it larger

Mars passing Antares – January 17-23 – 6 am CST

   Watch over the next several mornings and you will be able to determine which one is Mars and which is Antares as one of them moves past the other – as this animated graphic is showing. Also, relative to Mars and Antares the Moon is waning in phase as it zips past the two.

   There is an interesting connection between the star Antares and the planet Mars, based on their similar reddish color. There are times like this year when the two are close and part of the mythology surrounding the two suggests that the star was given its name so as to not confuse it with the planet Mars. The name Antares comes from the Greek word translated to ‘Rival of Mars’.

   Whenever that was historically Mars was probably known as one of the ‘wandering stars’ from the Greek word ‘planetai’. So with its reddish color, like blood, this ‘wandering star’ came to represent Mars, the ‘G-d of War’. Antares, on the other hand is a red supergiant star with a diameter estimated to be such that if it were at the center of our solar system Antares would fill the solar system out to around the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

   
   
   

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Mars – Spica Conjunction

   Saturday morning November 9th the planet Mars will be within about 2-3o from the blue-white star Spica in Virgo the Harvest Maiden. Both will easily fit within the field of view of binoculars.

   
   
   

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Sun Not Really in Virgo

   According to the pseudoscience of astrology the Sun enters the constellation of Virgo the Maiden on Friday August 23rd. When in fact the actual position of the Sun is toward the west and still within the boundaries of the constellation of Leo the Lion.

   Read a little more about how astrology has the Sun incorrectly placed in a previous blog, and in another blog discussing the effects of precession.
   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to return to bobs-spaces.


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Moon-Spica Conjunction

   Monday evening August 5th the 5-day old waxing crescent Moon will be within about 5-6o from the blue-white star Spica over the southwestern horizon. Both will set shortly before midnight local time.
   Spica is part of the constellation Virgo the Harvest Maiden and represents a bundle of grasses, perhaps wheat, in her left hand.

   
   
   

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Waning Gibbous Moon Passes Spica

   Over the next 2 days, March 21st and 22nd, the waning gibbous Moon will be passing by the blue-white star Spica in the constellation Virgo the Harvest Maiden, coming within 6-7o on the 21st and 10-11o on the 22nd.
   From the mythology about Virgo she is often depicted with a bundle of grasses, like wheat, clutched in her left hand. The star Spica represents that bundle.


   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to return to bobs-spaces.


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