Gemini the Twins


A constellation high overhead above Orion in the southwest is Gemini the Twins. It's easy to identify because it contains 2 of the bright Winter Circle stars, Pollux, and Castor. They are famous brothers in Greco-Roman mythology and are the heads of the twins.

There are a total of 13 stars in this constellation. The Milky Way runs through its legs and Orion’s upper arms, and the feet are just northeast of Betelgeuse. It's a prominent Zodiacal constellation, and one of the few that look like what they're called.

The twins are the sons of Queen Leda of Sparta, and brothers of Helen of Troy whose beauty instigated the Trojan War. Castor's father is the King of Sparta. When Zeus seduced his mother, Pollux was born. So, they're half brothers, and not twins. They served as shipmates with Jason on the Argo, and they were among the Argonauts who went in search of the golden fleece of Aires the Ram.

When Castor died, Pollux begged his father to give him immortality. He did and united them together in the heavens. Gemini the Twins looks like two bodies standing next to each other holding hands.

The brighter star Pollux is a single yellow star 34 light years from us. Castor is a multi-star system with two white stars visible with a telescope. There's also a faint red star, and each star is a double making Castor a total of six stars. It's also famous for having planets.

M35 is to the lower right of Gemini near the foot stars and is an open star cluster 20 light years across and 2,700 light years from us. It's visible with unaided vision, but obviously binoculars or a telescope will show you what wonders it contains. M36, 37 and 38 are just to the right of it. They’re all in front of the Milky Way.

Since the new moon was on the 2nd and the first quarter is on the 10th, this is a perfect time to go out in the evening and look at the sky. The Zodiacal light will be visible through April on clear nights when the moon isn't shining. So, the next few nights are a perfect time to look for it.