The Gemini constellation is fairly easy to find because it almost looks like two stick figures connected by a line.
Find the Gemini Constellation
The Gemini constellation is rich in mythology, but before one even delves into those ancient stories, it's helpful to be able to actually see the constellation itself. There are two ways scholars suggest to find this constellation.
- First Method: The first is by locating Orion (also called Messier 42 and M42), a fairly bright constellation in its own right. Once Orion is found in the southern sky in the northern hemisphere, Gemini is located North-West from Orion.
- Second Method: The second method is to first find the Big Dipper. Locate the stars in the cup of the Big Dipper. The star that joins the cup and the handle together is the one that will help you find Pollux.
From there, draw or connect a line from the cup and the handle; continue on this line and it will bring you directly to Gemini. Once this is done, it's virtually impossible to miss the Gemini constellation because it really does look like two people, or twins, standing together.
Stars and Location
To clarify the position of Gemini even further, consider its closest neighboring constellations:
- Canis Minor
Amature star gazers can use the following information to find this constellation:
- Abbreviation: Gem
- Right Ascension: 7 hours
- Declination: +20 degrees
- Covers an Area of Over: 514 square degrees
- Visible Best: During the winter months
Two meteor showers are associated with Gemini:
- Geminids: Best seen in mid-December, the peak of these showers occurs between the twelfth and fourteenth of the month
- RHO Geminids: This meteor shower reigns from December 28 to January 28.
Characteristics of Gemini
In terms of astrology, Gemini's ruling planet, Mercury, is often referred to as a "trickster" planet; that's because Mercury tends to retrograde (appear to move backwards in the sky) about three or four times a year. That "trickster" quality is sometimes seen in the Gemini native. Here are some other common characteristics:
- Talkative: In general, Gemini is quite the chatty sign. This is because Mercury rules all forms of communication, and it usually translates into Gemini "carrying news".
- Duplicitous: While the word carries with it a certain negative connotation, this is slightly unfair as it applies to Gemini. Geminis simply see, or understand the "flip" side of most, if not all, arguments.
- Funny: Geminis are the kings and queens of slapstick comedy. Ever wonder who laughs at those step-on-a-banana jokes? That's right - Gemini.
Myths Associated with the Constellation of Gemini
Gemini is all about duality, so most of the [Origin of Astrological Signs|myths]] associated with the constellation of Gemini highlight that fact.
Castor and Pollux
The myth of the twins, Castor and Pollux, has it that these two were the closest of brothers, as well as friends, and that they were constantly in each other's presence. The key to really understanding the Gemini personality is knowing that Castor, even though he was Pollux's brother, was mortal. One day, Castor was killed.
Pollux, the immortal of the two (and, by the way, the brightest star within the Gemini constellation), was overcome with grief. He begged Zeus not to be separated from his brother, and while Zeus could not bring Castor back, he did come up with a workable solution. The twins could spend half of their time in heaven, and the other half in the underworld. This myth goes a long way in explaining why Gemini is often on a quest for their "other half" or twin flame.
Hermes, the Messenger of the Gods
Hermes was the precocious product of a liaison between Maia and the playboy of the Gods, Zeus. Zeus, as usual, was not single at the time of Hermes birth, and as such, Maia had to hide him. However, Hermes was a sharp baby, and he knew that while he was stashed away in a dark and dank cave, his father was living high and mighty on Mount Olympus. As one might imagine, Hermes was not happy.To get back at Zeus, Hermes went and stole fifty of Apollo's cattle, and he went to great lengths to disguise his crime (even tying twigs on his sandals and walking backwards to cover his tracks- just like a Mercury retrograde period).
Hermes is finally caught when Apollo visits the baby's cave (yes, he's still an actual infant), and accuses him of theft. Hermes expertly argues back, accusing Apollo of bullying him. Whether charmed, exhausted or a combination of both, Apollo takes the baby with him to Mount Olympus.
When Hermes finally meets Zeus, he complains about his unfair treatment (basically that Zeus likes Apollo more than him) and demands respect and equal footing. Zeus quickly recognizes that his son (Hermes) is clever, quick and talented, and bestows a special honor upon him: He becomes the spokesperson for the Gods.
Moreover, Hermes is given the rare and important duty of roaming wherever he chooses; he literally can freely roam through heaven, the mortal world and the underworld.
A Final Word
The myths don't actually end there. There's also the tale of Helen and Clytemnestra, a female set of twins, and their mother Leda; a woman who disguised herself as a swan, and mated with (who else?), Zeus. She laid two eggs that bore to sets of twins.
However, from the myths above, we get a better idea of the richness and the complexity of the Gemini constellation. So, the next time you see Pollux winking in the sky, be sure to give a nod to his mortal brother, Castor.