Looking Up: Together Forever

Jan 20, 2020

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Credit User:AugPi / wikimedia commons

This week on Looking Up Hal doubles our pleasure and doubles our fun by revealing some of the secrets of the Gemini Twins.

Did you ever wish you had a twin brother or sister? Someone to be with and to talk to all the time? How about to spend all eternity with in the Colorado night sky? If you said yes to the latter, you may well be talking about the wonderful constellation of Gemini soaring in the Colorado night sky now through May.

Gemini is perhaps the second most prominent winter constellation after the more famous Orion. And Gemini is supposed to be two twin brothers. One was immortal, and the other mortal. When the mortal brother died, Zeus placed both in the heavens so they could always be together.

In Gemini is a really funny looking object known as the Eskimo or Clown Face planetary nebula. This object is not a planet – the name is confusing – but rather what’s left over after a star puffs up and blasts out a shell of material. This expanding shell glows brightly and a decent telescope will let you see the tiny star in the middle, the left overs of the outgassing, if you’ll pardon the expression. The name Gemini was also given to the second set of US space missions, after Project Mercury and before Apollo. Not surprisingly, the Gemini spacecraft held two astronauts. 

Gemini, the famous constellation is dominated by two bright stars: Pollux (left) and Castor (right).
Credit Rogelio Bernal Andreo (Deep Sky Colors) / nasa.gov

So get outside and look up at the brothers locked forever beside each other in our night sky. 

If you’d like to take a closer look at Gemini, or any of the other wonderful and amazing things in the sky, please visit csastro.org for a link to information on our monthly meetings and our free public star parties.