Virgin & Crow (Spring)

As I have noted before, the ecliptic’s northward crossing of the equator also marks the zero-hour meridian. This point is called the First Point in Aries, even though it is currently in Pisces, and Spring starts when the Sun passes this point. Halfway across the sky, the 12-hour meridian is tied to the point where the southbound ecliptic meets the equator. Of course, when the Sun passes this point, Autumn starts. Here we find the constellations Virgo, Corvus and Crater.

Virgo lies between Leo (the Lion) and Libra (the Scales). To find it, start at Leo and head East. Most of Virgo is dim and rather difficult to trace. In fact, Virgo has only one bright star, Spica. This blue-white gem is the 16th brightest star in the sky.

Below Virgo lies the constellation Corvus, the crow. It is compact, reasonably bright and easy to locate. With the Dolphin and the Lizard, it is one of my favourite small constellations. The Messier object M104 is also known as the Sombrero galaxy; it is easily visible in a small telescope from a reasonably dark site. I have seen it with binoculars from semi-rural sites.

Beside Corvus, see if you can find Crater, the Cup. This challenging constellation is large and dim; its brightest star is only magnitude 4.