It's a new month, which means that a new constellation is in focus, if you will. This month's feature: a transition constellation that, like March, marks a change from winter to spring, the zodiac constellation Gemini, the twins.
Come March, Gemini will be high in the Western sky. To find Gemini, look high and for a pair of bright stars, Pollux and Castor, alpha and beta Gemini. Upon seeing such bright stars so close to each other in somewhat of a void of bright stars, one can see why the pair would be associated with twins. An interesting fact dealing with these two stars is that, in terms of their Bayer (Greek letter) designation, they;'re reversed with the brighter Pollux being beta with the slightly dimmer Castor being designated alpha.
Moving onto the telescope, the first target when probing the depths of space should be Castor, which is a 6-star system. Unfortunately, in normal telescopes for normal people, only two stars are visible. Staying at Castor but kicking down the power, travel down the line of stars that represents the body of Castor and to a small arc of stars that points toward Taurus. In a finderscope, one should come across a hazy patch of sky, which is the large open cluster M35. If your sky is dark or your scope big enough, you may even see a small NGC open cluster in the same field.
So, with March, lengthening days, and a return to Daylight Savings Time being upon us, get out to view Gemini this month before it dips into twilight by April's end.
As the last part of the puzzle, be sure to keep an eye on the Cleveland weather forecast and, for hour-by-hour cloud predictions, the Cleveland Clear Sky Clock if you plan to head out and look at the stars this coming week. Live somewhere else? Find a clock and see if it will be clear near you.
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Bodzash Photography & Astronomy