THE REALM OF GHOSTS

Will Gater dives into the re­gion of Virgo, one of the most ex­tra­or­di­nary swathes of the night sky, to re­veal the sci­ence be­hind the faint gal­ax­ies that re­side there

Sky at Night Magazine - - CONTENTS -

Ex­plore the ex­tra­or­di­nary sci­ence of the faint gal­ax­ies that lie deep within Virgo.

Cast your eye across the band of sky be­tween the star Spica and the han­dle of The Plough on a clear spring night and what do you see? Save for few stars there doesn’t ap­pear to be much to write home about – at least not to the naked eye.

Yet this great swathe of the ce­les­tial sphere is ar­guably one of the most ex­tra­or­di­nary patches of our night sky as it’s pep­pered with hun­dreds of gal­ax­ies. Virgo is swarm­ing with faintly glow­ing ce­les­tial forms; there are del­i­cate spi­ral wisps, fuzzy el­lip­ti­cals and even great clus­ters of gal­ax­ies gath­er­ing in their mul­ti­tudes. And though they may be hid­den to the naked eye, these spec­tral, stel­lar gath­er­ings are of enor­mous in­ter­est to astro­physi­cists. So come with us as we ex­plore the sci­ence of some of the more fa­mous in­hab­i­tants of Virgo’s ghostly ga­lac­tic realm. ABOUT THE WRITER Will Gater is an as­tron­omy jour­nal­ist, au­thor and pre­sen­ter. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @will­gater or visit will­gater.com

Hid­den from view above the south­west hori­zon, in-be­tween Spica (left) and the Plough (right), lies a re­gion of space filled with as­tro­nom­i­cal marvels

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