- March 5, 2012
The Gemini constellation comprises of two extremely shining stars that are referred to as twins in various ancient civilizations. While the Arab mythology refers them as twin peacocks, Hindu myth identifies them as twin Gods and the Egyptians say it is a pair of goats. These two stars are named Pollux and Castor, who were the children of Leda, the mother and Jupiter & Zeus, the fathers. Amongst these two boys, Pollux was a great soldier and Castor, an expert horse rarer. Further story related to these two stars of Gemini constellation states that these twin brothers united the Argonaut army during their hunt for the Golden Fleece.
Attempting to locate the Gemini constellation, you will observe some open clusters when viewing with your binoculars. While Pollux and Castor happen to be the brightest stars in the Gemini constellation, M35 and Cepheid are the open clusters and are worth watching as they comprise of many shining stars such as Zeta and Geminorum. An ideal way to locate Gemini constellation is to search for Orion initially. Gemini constellation gets positioned northwest to the location of Orion and is in the neighbourhood of Orion. But you can also locate Gemini by locating the Bid Dipper first. One line drawn connecting the four stars of Big Dipper will straight away connect you to Pollux, the brightest star of Gemini constellation. Hereafter, locating Castor is even easier as it is just beside, in the right of Pollux.
Pollux, which is yellow-orange huge star shines red in Gemini constellation and has 1.15 as its magnitude, exists at a distance of 36 light years from Earth whereas Castor, the next bright star in this constellation is comparatively farther from earth i.e. positioned at 51.6 light years. Precisely speaking, Castor is formed with a family of six stars. The collective brightness of all stars in Castor, when calculated, turns out to be 52.4 times that of the Sun.
Some interesting facts about the Gemini constellation are:
- The two chief stars in this constellation, Castor and Pollux, are seen as two straight lines or stick-like figures; much like the roman numeric II. Their identification can be in the form of twin Gods which the Chinese identify as Yin and Yang, a twofold force.
- M35 and NGC 2392 are the other two major constituents of this constellation. Out of the two, M35 comprises of two hundred stars.
- Another mythology related to the Gemini constellation concerns with positioning of the twin stars one of which is within the Milky Way and the other, out of it. Because Milky Way notably represents cattle flock, this positioning of the twin stars signify a picture as if cattle are being stolen.
- The near most star to Gemini constellation is Gliese 251, which is 17.99 light years away from the constellation.
- The unique phenomenon of meteor shower occurs every December second week. Known as Geminids, observing the meteor shower radiations out of Gemini constellation is a treat for astronauts and astronomy enthusiasts.