For many watching the Moon is a romantic affair but the next two nights our closest celestial neighbour will put on an extra special show when it has a brief encounter with the bright diamond-like star Spica. Step outside tonight around 10 pm and face towards the southwest and find the waxing gibbous Moon.
Look carefully to its upper left and you will notice a white coloured star shining through the Moon’s glare. Tomorrow night, Wednesday, the moon will have jumped to the left of the star. Spica is the brightest star in the familiar zodiac constellation Virgo – the virgin.
Despite it being the second largest constellation in the entire sky its member stars, except for Spica, are all quite faint and are hard ot make out with the naked eye from city limits. Located about 260 light years from Earth Spica is the 15th brightest star in the heavens and is a blue giant that is about 14 times the mass of our own Sun.
Ancient astronomers took note of its brilliance as far back as 5000 years ago with ancient Egyptians bulding a temple referencing it. Famous astronomers like Hipparchus and Copernicus made observations of Spica in their studies of the night sky too.
Tags: Spica, Virgo
Posted in Constellations, Solar System, Stargazing, The Moon, stars | 1 Comment »