Perhaps, if not all, then many know the large and bright constellation of Orion, which is very easily determined by three luminous points, lined up in a straight line (belt). Next to him are Gemini, a constellation that is not inferior to a sky hunter either in size or in expressiveness and brightness of its components.
Find this site is quite simple. The zodiacal constellation Gemini in the sky has a characteristic configuration: two parallel lines of fairly bright stars. In order to detect them, you can first find Orion, and then his shoulder, indicated by the reddish and bright star Betelgeuse. In the north-east of it and located Twins. The constellation is spread out over a fairly large part of the sky. Two almost parallel lines of glowing points crowned Castor and Pollux, the alpha and beta of this constellation.
You can observe the sky pattern throughout our country. The ideal time for this is December and January. In these months, the constellation rises quite high above the horizon and they can be admired throughout the night.
If you look at the Gemini on old maps, they are always depicted as a pair of similar young people, sometimes armed, sometimes just laughing. Strictly speaking, Castor and Pollux were not twins, at least according to one of the versions of the myth. Their mother, beautiful Leda, was the wife of Tyndareus, the king of Sparta. However, the daughter Elena Prekrasnaya and son Polidevka she gave birth not from him, but from Zeus himself. Castor and Clytemnestra, who were born a little later, were the children of the Spartan king.
Pollux and Castor became almost inseparable: they played together, joined the Argonauts together. In addition, they won many competitions. Castor masterfully handled the chariot, and Pollux was fist-fought and had a reputation as invincible.
When Kastor was killed, the immortal from birth, Pollux, asked his father to let him die and reunite with his brother. However, Zeus did not want the death of his son and arranged in his own way: Pollux was spending one day on Olympus with the gods, and one with his brother in the realm of Hades. And in memory of brotherly love, the thunderbringer placed the constellation of Gemini in the sky.
Gemini is a constellation worthy in many ways. It is one of the oldest, those that were described in the period of antiquity by Ptolemy in his famous "Almagest". This celestial drawing is included in the zodiac circle, in which all the planets move, as well as the Moon and the Sun.
However, for an ordinary observer, the most valuable, perhaps, is that Gemini is a constellation consisting of a huge number of luminaries, almost seventy of which are distinguishable with the naked eye on a clear night, fourteen of them brighter than the third magnitude. And, of course, more than others, there are two main points of the sky pattern - Castor and Pollux.
Alpha constellation Gemini
The brightest point is Pollux. However, the Gemini alpha is precisely Castor. It ranks second in terms of brightness in the constellation and has a number of very interesting in terms of astronomy characteristics.
Castor is a system of two components with a orbital period of 350 years, each of which is a spectral binary star. However, the system of Castor is not exhausted by these four luminaries. It also has YY Gemini, a dim eclipsing double star. Conventionally, it is designated in the scientific literature as Castor S. It makes one revolution around the system of four stars over a huge period: several tens of thousands of years.
Another interesting point is connected with Castor: the radiant of one of the meteor showers (the Geminids) is located next to it. It can be seen in the period from December 7 to 15. The greatest strength of the stream is gaining 13 numbers, when up to 60 meteors sweep every hour.
The main luminous dot that distinguishes the constellation Gemini is the brightest star of this celestial pattern, Pollux. Luminaries belong to the class of scientists orange giants. It has already descended from the Main sequence and will soon exhaust the stock of helium on the universal time scale. It will happen in a hundred million years. Pollux will reset the gas shell and become a white dwarf.
Beta Gemini is also a variable star. In addition, in 2006, the planet was discovered, orbiting the orange giant with a period of 589 days. The mass of a space object is 2.9 masses of Jupiter.
In addition to Castor and Pollux, there are several other objects for which the constellation Gemini is famous. The stars are dimmer than the main pair, but are notable for other parameters. So, the delta of Gemini, or Vasat, is only the seventh brightest in the constellation, but it is of particular interest to researchers. The fact is that it is located almost exactly on the ecliptic, the circle on which the visible movement of the Sun occurs throughout the year. Wasat is just 0.2 degrees behind the line to the south.
However, the fame of its delta Gemini is more indebted to another. It was near her in 1930 that Clyde Tombo spotted Pluto. Wasat is a marker of a place where a dwarf planet crosses the ecliptic in its movement.
According to its physical characteristics, the Gemini delta is a subgiant of class F. Its luminosity is ten times greater than solar. Vasat has a companion making one revolution around a star in 1200 years. In addition, according to some data, the Gemini delta can be a spectral binary star.
Other interesting things
Gemini is a constellation in which not only remarkable luminaries are located. Not far from the mu and zeta of this heavenly pattern, you can see a dull speck. This is an open cluster of M35, consisting of about 120 stars. It is available for observation to owners of a telescope or high-powered binoculars.
Another object also looks like a small ball - the Eskimo planetary nebula, or, as it is also called, the Clown. It is located at a distance of 2900 light years from the sun.
For an inexperienced observer, it is difficult to relate two lines of stars to familiar images of Gemini in different literature. However, quite bright luminaries, its components, and such a landmark, as Orion, well help in the search. Owners of the telescopes have the chance to examine all the objects of the heavenly pattern, to fully enjoy the beauty of this part of the cosmos.