Virgo (vûrˈgō) [key] [Lat., = the virgin], constellation lying on the ecliptic (the sun's apparent path through the heavens) between Libra and Leo, and SW of Boötes; it is one of the constellations of the zodiac. Virgo is traditionally depicted as a maiden holding an ear of grain to symbolize the harvest; various civilizations identified her with such figures as Ceres, Isis, Ishtar, and Rhea. The most prominent star is Spica (Alpha Virginis), a white star of first magnitude. In 1936 a supernova was discovered in Virgo. A famous cluster of 2,500 galaxies, the Virgo cluster, lies in the constellation; the radio galaxy Virgo A is also found there. Virgo reaches its highest point in the evening sky in late May.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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