Spica: The Brightest, Bluest Star in the Sky

May 04, 2016


Photographer: Greg Parker
Summary Author: Greg Parker

Now that we're enjoying the spring season in the Northern Hemisphere we can observe a bright, blue star crossing our southern horizon during the evening hours - that star is Spica or Alpha Virginis (Spica lies in the constellation of Virgo). As it's the only bright star in a region that's remarkably barren of bright stars, it should be quite obvious. To find it, follow the arc of the Big Dipper's handle past the bright orange star, Arcturus, and on to Spica. If you're able to view it through binoculars it'll be unforgettable - the intense blue color of the star seems almost unreal. It's truly a celestial sapphire! Note that it doesn't appear so blue when it's low in the sky.
Spica has a magnitude is 0.98 and a B-V index (an indication of the redness or blueness of a star) of -0.23. Only 3 stars are bluer. However, Spica is certainly the brightest, bluest, star in the entire sky. Image taken on April 8, 2016, from the New Forest Observatory, U.K.
Photo Details: Image was captured using the Sky 90 array and M26C one shot color CCDs.  I've  digitally applied the Akira Fujii effect to Spica itself.