The Night Sky: The Constellation Gemini and Star Cluster M35

Gemini and the other winter constellations will soon exit Stage west. As the Earth revolves around the Sun, we get parade of constellations that come and go with the seasons.

Attached is a picture of the constellation Gemini. It can be found high in the southwest near Auriga and Taurus this time of year. The two brightest stars in Gemini are Castor and Pollux. They are marked with a ‘C’ and ‘P’ in the picture.

Castor is 50 light years away and is part of a six-star system. The two main stars in the system (Castor A + B) look like twin white stars, very close together, when viewed through a telescope. They orbit around each other every 467 years. The rest of the stars in this sextuple star system can not be seen optically. 

Pollux is 33 light years distant and has a huge planet orbiting it. The planet has over 2 times the mass of our Jupiter. Many large planets have been discovered orbiting other stars. The ‘extra solar’ planet count is well over 500. These large planets are sometimes referred to as ‘Hot Jupiters’ because large planets often produce more heat internally than they receive from their parent star.

In the upper right of the Gemini picture is the star cluster cataloged as M35. Look for the number ‘35’ to find its location in the picture. At 3,000 light years away, it looks like a small blue patch of stars in this wide angle view. 

Through a telescope however, it is resolved into hundreds of stars.  See the attached close up of M35 taken through a telescope at Round Hill Observatory. What a difference a little magnification can make!

Starry Nights!

Image Technical Details (wide angle Gemini picture)

  • Taken from Bunker Hill in Lakeville CT
  • 2010-11-13
  • Canon T1i camera
  • 28mm lens at f/5
  • Stack of 2 Four minute exposures
  • No Calibration
  • Processed in Photoshop CS5

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Zeena Nackerdien April 13, 2012 at 05:56 PM
Rick, Thanks for sharing your knowledge and photos. Zeena Nackerdien
Lara Skye Baddour April 15, 2012 at 02:13 AM
I love this! I've been wanting to know what's going on up there. Thank you!
Rick Bria April 15, 2012 at 05:33 PM
Thanks Zeena, Rick Bria
Rick Bria April 15, 2012 at 05:34 PM
Thanks Lara, Rick Bria
Rick Bria April 15, 2012 at 05:35 PM
Thanks for getting me started at the Bowman... back in 1976, Rick Bria


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