Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Astronomy (Sept. 13th and 14th 2009)

September 13-14, 2009
Mars rises just below the Moon on the morning of the 13th (around 1-2 a.m.), and a little farther above it on the 14th. Pollux and Castor, the twin stars of Gemini, align to the left of the Moon on the 14th.

Gemini, the Twins
Gemini is easy to find as it glides high overhead in mid-winter, above and to the left of Orion. It's two brightest stars Castor and Pollux represent the mythological twins brothers of Helen of Troy.

Many cultures have seen two humans in this star pattern marked by two roughly parallel lines of stars capped by two of the brightest stars in our night sky. But the legend that endures is that of Castor and Pollux. Gemini's two brightest stars bear the names of the twins.

Pollux is the brighter of the twins. It's an orange giant star that's about 35 light-years from Earth. Castor consists of six stars, a cosmic sextet locked in a gravitational ballet. This crowded system lies about 50 light-years from Earth.