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Learn the Constellations
The First Light Astronomy Kit from David Chandler Company

 Buy it Now or Find Out More

The Constellation Gemini - The Twin Brothers

Mythology: Gemini - The Twins

After Zeus, disguised as a graceful swan, visited Queen Leda of Sparta, she gave birth to twin sons, Castor and Pollux. The two were devoted and loving brothers who later became as different in nature as they appeared alike as twins. The mortal Castor developed into a master horseman, while the immortal Pollux became a famous boxer. Together, The Twins grew to become skillful warriors. When Castor was killed in battle, Pollux, who was so very attached to his brother, could not bear to continue on without him. Stricken with great sorrow, Pollux asked of their father, Zeus, to bring Castor back to life. Zeus, touched by this display of devoted brotherly love, arranged for The Twins to stay endlessly side by side among the stars as the brilliant constellation Gemini.

With spring approaching, deep sky observers can look forward in anticipation (or dread) to the tangles of galaxies in Virgo, Coma Berenices, and Ursa Major. However, in Gemini, we will be taking a look at a region of the Milky Way rich in open clusters and planetary nebulae. Gemini lies right along the Milky Way, and the ecliptic (the region in which the Sun and planets are constrained) passes through it. Cancer lies further away from the Milky Way, and in it can be seen many faint galaxies as well as bright open clusters.


M-35 - This is a fine open cluster, easily seen in binoculars and blazing with stars through a telescope. Well over 100 stars can be counted in this moderately concentrated cluster. It is well detached from the stellar background and has a moderate range in magnitudes of stars.

NGC 2158 - Until I started pursuing my Herschel certificate, I never noticed this small cluster lying on the outskirts of M-35. It is about 3'x2', with about 10 stars superimposed on a nebulous patch of fainter, unresolved stars.

NGC 2371-2 - You've probably heard of the Dumbell Nebula (M-27), and the Little Dumbell (M-76), but how about the Micro-Dumbell? You probably haven't, because that's my name for this object. This planetary nebula (some authors say it is two line-of-sight planetaries) appears as two softly glowing grey puffs of light, seemingly touching. It is about 30"x12" in total extent, with the more western lobe appearing brighter. I think this faint object is one of the many fascinating gems found by those willing to delve into the deep sky, past the bright and splashy showpieces.

NGC 2392 - The Eskimo Nebula. This is another fine planetary nebula. It has a bright central star which is surrounded by a halo of nebulosity about 40" in diameter. The halo is brightest close to the star, and fades out further away. Mottling and a lacy texture can be seen in this very pretty object.

NGC 2420 - This open cluster is about 10'x6', oriented north-south, with an arrowhead shape pointing to the east. I counted about 25 stars, with more stars hinted at due to its nebulous appearance. This object is fairly well detached, has a moderate range in stellar magnitudes, and is visible in the viewfinder.

Article © Copyright Rick Raasch
© Copyright Edward P. Flaspoehler, Jr.

Messier Objects in Genini











Open Cluster

6h 8.9

24d 20




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