γ Virginis

Gamma Virginis was named Porrima by the Romans, after two different goddesses of prophecy in antiquity.

Porrima is a splendid binary (Struve 1670), AB: 3.5, 3.5; 10º, 1.9" with an orbit of 168.7 years.

The star is 14º northwest of Spica: binoculars. Dozens of galaxies are in the vicinity but large telescopes are needed to resolve them.


One field southeast of gamma is theta, a white subgiant.

Theta is a multiple star system (Struve 1724) which includes a spectroscopic binary with a 14 year period. Component B is also a white subgiant—AB: 4.4, 9.4; 342º, 6.4".


If you centre theta in your glasses then move about one and a half fields north and very slightly to the west you'll find delta Virginis, a red giant with the name Auva, from ‘barking dog’. Delta is a red giant, with a radius 61 times that of the Sun's. Delta is a handy stop-over on the way to the galaxies; eight degrees north is epsilon, ‘The Door to the Chamber of Galaxies’.

But first, in this field with delta, at the southeastern edge, is the fine binary Struve 1719AB: 7.6, 8.2; 358º, 7.4".

Click on epsilon Virginis to continue.

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