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March 16, 2010 April 5, 2010

Posted by orionrising in Observing.
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Photorealistic Image in Stellarium

Object: Planet (Mars)

Site: Front Yard

Seeing: Good

Transparency: 2

Magnitude: -0.02

Constellation: Cancer

FOV: Naked Eye

Observing Time: 11:36-11:43 pm

Notes: Tonight as I stepped out to observe Leo (roughly scanned the length of its body), I found this unusual rendering of three “stars”.  Of course, upon further inspection I found that one of them was the planet Mars, forming a quite unique juxtaposition of luminary objects.  The other two objects are Castor and Pollux, the twins of Gemini.  One of the distinctive constellations of winter, it can still be prominent in early spring.  Mars is (technically) still in Cancer, but along with Pollux and Castor they make a stunning trio.  Astronomy is exciting when bright objects come into close perceptual proximity with each other!  More about the twins: according to legend, they were the sons of Leda, queen of Sparta, and after ocean voyagers of the ancient seas were “saved” by their dual beacons of light, they historically became known as the savior of ocean-going seamen [HowStuffWorks.com].  They are a great sight to see as part of the constellation Gemini, which is very prominent in the Winter months and stretches out through great swaths of the sky.   Castor is actually a six-star system, but seems like one or two in binoculars and a small telescope, respectively.

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