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Virgo and Libra

Zaniah (Eta Virginis, η Vir)

A triple star system in Virgo that, in 2002, became the first object to be imaged by combining the light from multiple telescopes (the Navy Prototype Optical Interferometer at the Lowell Observatory), a major breakthrough in optical interferometry.

 

Gamma Virginis (γ Vir, γ Virginis) is a binary star system in the constellation Virgo. This star system has the traditional names Porrima, Postvarta and Arich. Porrima was the names of two ancient goddesses of prophecy – the Carmenae, sisters and assistants of Carmenta or Carmentis, worshiped and at times invoked by their women.

 

Spica (α Vir, α Virginis, Alpha Virginis) is the brightest star in the constellation Virgo, and the 15th brightest star in the nighttime sky. It is 260 light years distant from Earth. A blue giant, it is a variable of the Beta Cephei type. Spica is believed to be the star that provided Hipparchus with the data which enabled him to discover precession of the equinoxes.

 

Iota Virginis (ι Vir, ι Virginis) is a star in the constellation Virgo. It has the traditional name Syrma.

Syrma is a yellow star of apparent magnitude 4.08 and spectral class F6 III about 70 light years from Earth. This star has 1.52 times the mass of the Sun,

 

Zubeneschamali (Beta Librae), the brightest star in the constellation Libra the Scales, is just a touch brighter than its counterpart in Libra, the star Zubenelgenubi (Alpha Librae). Nonetheless, Zubenelgenubi wins the alpha designation, probably because it sits on the ecliptic – the annual pathway of the sun in front of the background stars.

Is Zubeneschamali green with envy about Zubenelgenubi’s alpha status? Perhaps. The incomparable Burnham’s Celestial Handbook quotes the star enthusiast Willian Tyler Olcott, who refers to this star as “the only naked-eye star that is green in color.” A number of other people agree. If, indeed, Zubeneschamali is truly green or pale emerald green, it has distinguished itself from every, or almost every visible star in the starry firmament.

 

Zubenelgenubi: Actually the second brightest star in the constellation Libra, Zubenelgenubi is fun to pronounce (try zoo-BEN-al-je-NEW-bee

     

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Taken on May 7, 2012