National Research Council Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada


Warning Information found on this page has been archived and is for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. Please visit NRC's new site for the most recent information.

Archived Content

Information identified as archived on the Web is for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It has not been altered or updated after the date of archiving. Web pages that are archived on the Web are not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards. As per the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada, you can request alternate formats by contacting us.



To the ancient Greeks, Virgo represented Demeter, the goddess of agriculture. Demeter's daughter, Persephone, was kidnapped by Hades, the god of the underworld, and taken to his underground kingdom to be his wife. Demeter searched high and low for her daughter, so distraught that she even neglected the crops she was supposed to nurture. Eventually, things got so bad on Earth that Zeus persuaded Hades to release Persephone. Unfortunately, while she was in the underworld, Persephone had eaten some pomegranate seeds so that she could never fully leave. Therefore, each year Persephone returns to the underworld for a time — the crops die on Earth as her mother mourns, and we have winter. When Persephone comes back, her mother rejoices and the Earth becomes fruitful again.

The brightest star in Virgo is called Spica. It's easy to find if you follow the arc of the Big Dipper's handle to Arcturus, and then continue in a straight line. A good way to remember is to recite: "Arc to Arcturus, then speed on to Spica".

Back to Previous Page