Back to: Weekend Sky Report
April 10, 2020
In greek mythology, twins Castor and Pollux were the sons of Leda, a Spartan queen. They were fathered by different men though… Castor’s father was Tyndareus, Leda’s husband, king of Sparta. Pollux is the result of Zeus seducing Leda. So Pollux is immortal, while Castor is not. When Castor died, his brother begged Zeus to make him immortal. So he did by placing them together among the stars, creating the constellation we call… Gemini.
In the constellation, the heads of Castor and Pollux are named as such. And in reality, Castor and Pollux are of course light-years away from each other. The brighter Pollux is the closest giant-stage star to the sun, and orbiting it is one of the first known exoplanets. An enormous planet more than twice the mass of Jupiter which causes the star to wobble, which is how it was discovered in 2006. And Castor isn’t one star, but a remarkable SIX stars appearing as one.
To find Gemini, look to the west and find the familiar Orion. You’ll know it by its iconic “Belt” of three bright stars in a row. Then, simply look above Orion for two bright stars next to each other. The brighter one on the left is Pollux… it has a slightly orange hue to it. The dimmer one on the right is Castor. The rest of the constellation is dimmer and forms two stick figures below the two main stars.
Gemini will visible in the Western sky in the evening through early June.