The Gemini Constellation
Another installment in my constellation series is Gemini, which is one of the twelve constellations of the zodiac. Its name is Latin for "twins", and it is associated with the twins Pollux and Castor in Greek mythology. It lies between Taurus to the west and Cancer to the east, with Auriga and Lynx to the north and Monoceros and Canis Minor to the south of Gemini.
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Creative Commons image courtesy Wikimedia Commons
Background and Mythology
Gemini is most easily found by locating it's two brightest stars, Pollux and Castor. These two clearly visible stars seem relatively close together, helping to add to the mythological link between twins and the constellation. The twin on the left side of the constellation is named Pollux, whose brightest star is the first magnitude 'b' Geminorum (generally known as Pollux), and represents the head of Pollux. The twin on the constellations right is Castor, whose dominant, second magnatude star is 'a' Geminorum (generally known as Castor), and depicts Castor's head. Additionally, the other stars in the constellation can be seen as two parallel lines running from the two main stars, making it look like two independent figures.
Gemini is linked to the myths of Pollux and Castor, known as the Dioscuri. One of the most common of these myths involves the theft of cattle, and is possibly linked to prior myths that depict the Milky Way as a herd of cows. On astrological charts, the twins are commonly visualized as tilting away from the Milky Way, but are less commonly depicted with one of the twins living in the Milky Way, and the other outside of it, a scenario making it seem as though one of the twins is pilfering the cattle, and the other is merely observing the heist. The mythology states that when Castor, who was mortal, died Pollux begged his father Jupiter to give Castor immortality. Jupiter did exactly that, and linked the two twins together in the heavens until the end of time.
Public Domain image courtesy WPClipart
More Constellation Gemini Info
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