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Hang Out with the Twins of Gemini
by: David Prosper
The night skies of February are filled with beautiful star patterns, and so this month we take a closer look at another famous constellation, now rising high in the east after sunset: Gemini, the Twins!
If you’re observing Orion, as discussed in last month’s article, then Gemini is easy to find: just look above Orion’s “head” to find Gemini’s “feet.” Or, make a line from brilliant blue-white Rigel in the foot of Orion, through its distinct “Belt,” and then on through orange Betelgeuse. Keep going and you will end up in between the bright stars Castor and Pollux, the “heads” of the Gemini Twins. While not actually related – these stars aren’t bound to each other, and are almost a magnitude apart in brightness – they do pair up nicely when compared to their surrounding stars. Take note: more than one stargazer has confused Gemini with its next-door neighbor constellation, Auriga. The stars of Auriga rise before Gemini’s, and its brightest star, Capella, doesn’t pair up as strikingly with its second most brilliant star as Castor and Pollux do. Star-hop to Gemini from Orion using the trick above if you aren’t sure which constellation you’re looking at.