The Waning Moon and the Ear of Grain


February 26th, 2016

Having passed Regulus and Jupiter a few nights back, the waning gibbous Moon now passes close to Spica, the brightest star in the constellation of Virgo, the Virgin. The pair will appear closest for observers in the United Kingdom, but regardless of where you live, you’ll need to stay up late (or get up early the next morning) to see them.

Spica is an interesting star, some 250 light years away. It’s known as a spectroscopic binary, which means it’s actually two stars that can only be separated by the dark lanes that appear in the star’s spectrum. In fact, they’re so close together that the stars are actually egg-shaped. The main star is about ten times more massive than our Sun and is probably about 12,000 times more luminous.

And it’s name? It refers to the constellation as a whole and is derived from the Latin for “the virgin’s ear of grain” with many star atlases often depicting the constellation as a maiden holding an armful of wheat.


Adapted from 2016: The Night Sky Sights (available in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom) and 2016: An Astronomical Year (available in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom.)


All Astronomical Events for February 26th, 2016

17:49 UT – The waning gibbous Moon is north of Spica. (Virgo, evening sky.)


Events in bold involve objects and/or events that are visible with the naked eye.

All times are in Universal Time (UTC). To convert the time to your timezone, click here. Night sky simulations created using Mobile Observatory for Android devices.

2016 An Astronomical Year Paperback Cover 2016 The Night Sky Sights The Astronomical Almanac 2015-2019 Kindle Cover - Deep Sky Observer's Guide

Easy Things to See With a Small Telescope

2016: An Astronomical Year 2016: The Night Sky Sights The Astronomical Almanac (2015-2019) The Deep Sky Observer’s Guide

(Kindle & Paperback)

(Kindle & Paperback) (Kindle & Paperback) (Kindle & Paperback)


Amazon – US

Amazon – US Amazon – US Amazon – US Amazon – US
Amazon – UK Amazon – UK  Amazon – UK Amazon – UK

Amazon – UK

Details of all available books across the world can be found here or by visiting the author’s page on Amazon. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to contact me at astronomywriter “at”


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