Gemini Constellation Facts, The Twins

Gemini is the third sign of the zodiac. The Gemini constellation is easy to see because its stars form an almost perfectly symmetric image in which one side mirrors the other.

Gemini Mythology

The Greeks believed that Gemini represented twin brothers, thanks to the mirror image effect of this unique constellation. They named the two brightest stars of the constellation for each brother. Alpha Geminorum is Castor, while beta Geminorum is called Pollux.

Castor was believed to be a skilled horseman while his brother Pollux was considered to be a valiant soldier. Castor and Pollux grew up inseparable. When the twins clashed with another pair of brothers over two beautiful women, Castor, the mortal twin, was killed. His twin brother Pollux was so upset with this event that he wished to face death in order to rejoin his brother. The God Zeus worked out an acceptable compromise where they would spend half their time in heaven and half on Earth. As such, the Gemini constellation is only visible for half of the year.

Gemini Stars and Deep Space Objects

Pollux, is brighter than Castor. It is an orange giant 34 light-years distant. In 2006, an extrasolar planet was discovered orbiting the star. It was named Pollux b or Polydeuces. Pollux has a particular deep shade of yellow compared to Castor’s whiteness. Beta Geminorum, Pollux, is slightly brighter than alpha Geminorum, Castor.

Messier 35, or NGC 2168, is an open star cluster, lying approximately 2,800 parsecs from Earth. It takes up an area almost the size of the full moon in the sky. The neighbouring NGC 2158 is another open cluster, thought to be about a billion years old.

The Medusa Nebula, also known as Abel 21 and Sharpless 274, is an old, large planetary nebula near the border with the constellation Canis Minor.

Also found within Gemini is The Eskimo Nebula, NGC 2392, which appears like a person’s head wearing a hood, with bright orange streams in the outer layer. It is a bipolar planetary nebula that also goes by the name the Clownface Nebula.

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