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Stars in your eyes

star map of Gemini

Looking East on the 20th December 2008 at 9.00 p.m.
One of the twelve zodiac constellations � GEMINI

The names of the two brightest stars of this constellation are Castor and Pollux, known as the heavenly twins. According to Greek mythology this is their story.
One day Zeus seduced Leda, the wife of the King of Sparta, by changing himself into a swan, which seemed to be the sort of thing Greek gods did. Leda gave birth to the twins Pollux and Castor and also to a girl named Helena. This was the same Helena who was brought to Troy, thus starting the Trojan War.
The twins were raised by the centaur Chiron (now the constellation Sagittarius) and later joined Jason and the Argonauts in search of the Golden Fleece.
Eventually they decided to take wives and chose the two beautiful daughters of the king of Sparta. Now it so happened that they were already inconveniently married to Idas and Lynceus, cousins of the twins. This minor point made little difference to the twins who simply carried the girls off and settled down with them. Their husbands did not seem too bothered by this. A few years later the cousins, in friendly company with the twins, made a joint raid on some cattle. Trouble began between the two pairs of thieves when they tried to divide the cattle among themselves.
Idas had the solution. He hacked one of the cows into four equal pieces and said that whichever two individuals completely finished eating their quarters first would divide the spoils. This took the twins off guard and they watched helplessly as their two cousins wolfed down their quarters of the cow. Idas and Lynceus then drove off the entire herd.
Tricked, Castor and Pollux vowed to get even with their cousins. Within a few days they set out after the two cousins to recover their share of the cattle. During the fight that followed, Idas killed Castor with a spear. Infuriated over the loss of his twin brother, Pollux chased his cousins and killed Lynceus with a single blow. Just as Idas was about to hurl a tombstone at Pollux, Zeus came to Pollux�s aid and hurled a thunderbolt at Idas, killing him on the spot. Pollux, the immortal son of Zeus, begged to die so that he would not be separated from his brother. Not even the mighty Zeus could do such a thing so he placed them together in the sky as the constellation Gemini, the twins.
The two brothers were good companions and became gods, patrons of athletes and protectors of sailors at sea. Castor and Pollux had power over the winds and waves. Castor became famous as a rider of horses while his brother Pollux became equally skilled at boxing and fighting battles.
Thanks to our resident astronomer JG