Looking for the Virgo constellation

  • #1
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Main Question or Discussion Point

Tonight at around 9pm, i looked from southern california area to the south and found the LEO constellation with little problems. I found Regulus and a faint glow of Denebola, and the sickle shape was quite clear. I turned around and found the GREAT DIPPER constellation very easily. Mizar and Alioth were very evident. I also found the BOOTES constellation with little problems. Arcturus was bright as ever. Polaris was in the distance.

however, I found it difficult to locate CANIS MAJOR AND VIRGO constellations. Shouldn't SPICA of Virgo be the brightest star in the group? And, shouldn't SIRIUS be the brightest star in the CANIS MAJOR group?

what can I do to locate these stars? Also, is there a Satellite floating around near the BOOTES constellation???
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
russ_watters
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There are thousands of satellites and can be anywhere - they don't float around near specifc constellations. You may well have seen one.

For Virgo/Spica - what time were you out? Spica is pretty low in the sky after sunset. I assume you are in the northern hemisphere?
 
  • #3
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anybody have any ideas?
 
  • #4
russ_watters
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I had a couple...
 
  • #5
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hi russ,

I went again to look at the southern skies from Torrance, CA...southern California. To the left of the Leo constellation, there is a very bright star. I'm thinking it's Spica, but I am not too sure because I have a hard time locating the virgo constellation. Do you know which star I am talking about?
 
  • #6
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Do you have any degree of light pollutition?

This can at times make it difficult to find constellations.

As an example here, I can have a problem with ‘dimmer stars’. Yet, I can travel several miles away to darker skies and have no problem.
The same rule seems to apply with my feeble attempt at astropotography.

From your location Virgo should rise around 9:00pm local time.

It should be visible just above your Eastern horizon at 10:00pm local.
Although it is better to try and observe constellations when they are higher in the sky rather than looking through the atmosphere near the horizon.

Virgo will have climbed to approximately 50° in the Southeast sky by 01:00 local.
Probably your best time to try observing.

Evidently you found Bootes and Arcturus, so the Virgo constellation will be to the right.

Spica’s (ά Virgo) magnitude is -3.2, so you should see

Russ Watters ‘hit the nail on the head’. Like he said there are literally thousand of satellites and other ‘stuff’ orbiting out there.

If you note the time and direction of travel of a satellite there are several programs and links to follow and attempt an identification.
 
  • #7
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what is that bright star to the left of the Leo Constellation...it's like a sore thumb that stands out...
 
  • #8
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Could be Arcturus in Bootes which is quite visible. Also Saturn is close to Leo now, sitting in the area between Denebola and Regulus.
You got to get yourself a star chart. :smile:
 
  • #9
russ_watters
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hi russ,

I went again to look at the southern skies from Torrance, CA...southern California. To the left of the Leo constellation, there is a very bright star. I'm thinking it's Spica, but I am not too sure because I have a hard time locating the virgo constellation. Do you know which star I am talking about?
Spica is one of the brightest stars in the sky, but it isn't all that near Leo - at 9:00 at night, Leo is about 45 degrees up and Spica is almost directly below it and there isn't another bright star anywhere near it. The closest is Arcturus. I use the mneumonic "follow the arc (of the big dipper) to arcturus, drive the spike to spica" to find it. Basically, you just keep tracing the arc of the big dipper and it will lead you past Arcturus and on to Spica. It is about as far from Arcturus as Arcturus is from the big dipper.
 
  • #10
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Spica is one of the brightest stars in the sky, but it isn't all that near Leo - at 9:00 at night, Leo is about 45 degrees up and Spica is almost directly below it and there isn't another bright star anywhere near it. The closest is Arcturus. I use the mneumonic "follow the arc (of the big dipper) to arcturus, drive the spike to spica" to find it. Basically, you just keep tracing the arc of the big dipper and it will lead you past Arcturus and on to Spica. It is about as far from Arcturus as Arcturus is from the big dipper.
are you sure Spica isn't more near Leo??? I'm quite sure I found Leo facing south at around 9pm recently.

very near Leo...i'm talking just to the left and near Denebola. I have a planesphere by the way.

Arcturus is to the north of my viewpoint. I have to turn around and face north...and arcturus is to the right of the Big Dipper constellation. It's incredible how easy the Big Dipper stands out....
 
  • #11
russ_watters
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You're probably looking at Saturn and Denebola, but have them reversed. Saturn is in Leo, Denebola is 10 degrees directly to the left of it. Spica is directly below Denebola, 65 degrees.

What time are you looking?
 
  • #12
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You're probably looking at Saturn and Denebola, but have them reversed. Saturn is in Leo, Denebola is 10 degrees directly to the left of it. Spica is directly below Denebola, 65 degrees.

What time are you looking?
at around 9pm in southern california up into the southern skies.

that bright star very near LEO may be Saturn....it stands out so clearly!!!

where is Virgo then??? I can't seem to find SPICA.
 
  • #13
russ_watters
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How clear of a view of the horizon do you have? Spica is very low in the sky at that time, about 15 degrees.
 
  • #14
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what does Saturn look like currently with a telescope? are you able to see it's rings? when will we get this rare opportunity to see saturn so close again???
 
  • #15
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Excuse the awful quality of the photo. Just a very simple 30 second exposure on the tripod to capture Spica.

Note the location of Arcturus and Saturn. The constellation of Virgo is obvious. Spica is at the lower end.


http://i310.photobucket.com/albums/kk426/antiparticle/Spic.jpg [Broken]
 
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  • #16
russ_watters
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what does Saturn look like currently with a telescope? are you able to see it's rings?
See attached for a simulation of how it would look to the eye in a decent telescope.
when will we get this rare opportunity to see saturn so close again???
Next March. It is at opposition about every 13 months.
 

Attachments

  • #17
russ_watters
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Nice, waveform - that helps a lot!
 
  • #18
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excuse the awful quality of the photo. Just a very simple 30 second exposure on the tripod to capture spica.

Note the location of arcturus and saturn. The constellation of virgo is obvious. Spica is at the lower end.


http://i310.photobucket.com/albums/kk426/antiparticle/spic.jpg [Broken]
wow!!! Thanks waveform!!!!
 
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  • #19
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For help in finding celestial bodies you could use the program http://www.stellarium.org/.

It helps me a lot when I am trying to find something.
 
  • #20
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Yes, good suggestion.

I use that particular program myself at times. I find it useful.
 
  • #21
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For help in finding celestial bodies you could use the program http://www.stellarium.org/.

It helps me a lot when I am trying to find something.
Stratosphere, thank you for the application. I am impressed with it.
 

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