When people speak of Gemini, those in the baby boomer age cohort typically think back to NASA’s Gemini space program. NASA’s Gemini mission sent pairs of astronauts deep into the unknown of space back in the 1960s. The program was dubbed as such as the constellation Gemini consists of the Greek mythology twins Castor and Pollux. The Latin word “Gemini” means twins. The mythology behind the Gemini Constellation just might be the most intriguing of all the star groups in the sky. Let’s take a closer look at Gemini mythology and the best time to view Gemini in all its beauty.
The Story of Castor and Pollux
According to Greek mythology, Castor and Pollux are twin brothers birthed from the same mother yet do not share the same father. Castor’s father is the King of Sparta. Pollux was seeded by the famous Greek God known as Zeus. The pair’s mother, the Queen of Sparta, fell in love with Zeus when he concealed his identity, taking the form of a swan. Making the story even more interesting is the fact that the legend states Castor and Pollux shared the same egg as one another as well as two sisters. One of those siblings turned out to be Helen of Troy.
Castor and Pollux developed a close bond as they aged, eventually being dubbed as “Dioscuri”, meaning the sons of Zeus. According to Greek mythology, a related pair of twin brothers were born in another land. This second set of twins gradually developed a rivalry with Castor and Pollux. Both groups of twins eventually found their way to the famous voyage of Jason and the Argonauts, leading to a temporary truce. Unfortunately, the feud was reignited when Castor was murdered by the nemesis twins. Though few laymen know it, Castor was a mere mortal while Pollux is immortal. The pair’s mythical father, Zeus, reunited the brothers by putting them in the stars in what is referred to as the twins of the Gemini Constellation.
Gemini’s Interpretation in Other Parts of the World
Those familiar with Egyptian astrology are quick to point out the Gemini constellation is interpreted a bit differently. The Egyptians identify the twin figures in this star group as a pair of goats. Those who follow Arabian astrology believe Gemini’s twins are a pair of peacocks. However, the vast majority of Western society considers Gemini to be comprised of Castor and Pollux in accordance with the story told in Greek mythology. Those in the Western world also link other sets of twins to Gemini including the young and old Horus and Rome’s legendary founders, Remus and Romulus.
How to get the Best View of the Gemini Constellation
The first three months of the new year are the perfect time to see Gemini in all its splendor. Take a look up at the sky on a cloudless evening and you will spot Gemini in the east as night falls. Gemini reaches its apex around 10 p.m. in early February. If you head on out to stargaze in late February, you will see Gemini at its high point around 9 p.m. The Gemini constellation remains visible in the night sky all the way until May. However, if you look to the west when night falls in the late spring or early summer, there is still a chance you might catch a glimpse of this gorgeous constellation.
Castor and Pollux gradually fade away as the sun sets just ahead of the summer solstice on June 21. The sun passes in front of this constellation each year between June 21 and July 20. Hence, those born between these dates are dubbed Geminis.