The Sky In Spring March April

The spring sky does not offer as rich a fare as the sky in winter. Besides, with the nights growing shorter we have fewer hours at our disposal. But, still, we can enjoy watching two of the brighter zodiacal constellations which offer splendid sights during the spring months.

Gemini

If we turn our gaze to the northeast of Orion (over the

Gemini

Star

Name

Magnitude

Distance (Light-years)

a

Castor

1.58

46

P

Pollux

1.14

36

Y

Alhena

1.93

85

5

Wasat

3.53

59

e

Mebsuta

2.98

685

n

Propus '

3.10

186

%

Alzirr

3.36

75

Hunter's right shoulder) we will come to the zodiacal constellation of Gemini, the Twins (Mithuna). We can easily locate it by using the stars Rigel and Betelgeuse as pointers. If we join these two stars of Orion and extend the imaginary line further up (to the north) we will reach two bright stars close to each other. They are Alpha Geminorum, or Castor and Beta Geminorum, or Pollux (Punarvasu), the principal stars of Gemini. A'he two stars are not alike — Castor (mag. 1.6) is bluish-white, while Pollux (mag. 1.2) is orange-red. On a clear night the contrast between them

The Twins.

shows how intense the colouration of stars can be. If we look through a telescope (with a magnification of lOOx) we will find that Castor is really made up of two stars close together; but to the unaided eye they appear as a single star. Punarvasu is one of the 27 nakshatras of Indian astronomy. Castor and Pollux culminate at around 9.00 p.m. during the first week of March.

One of the interesting objects in Gemini is the star cluster M35. We can find it just off the star Eta Geminorum on dark nights if the sky is clear. In low-power binoculars it may look like a dim, fairly large interstellar cloud. But if we look carefully, even through light polluted city skies, a pair of 7x 50 binoculars will reveal at least half a dozen of the cluster's brightest stars against the whitish glow of about 200 others.

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