50 Gemini Facts About the Twins of the Night Sky – Facts.net

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The modern constellation of Gemini has its roots in a Greek legend.

Specifically, to the myth of Castor and Pollux, the twin children of Queen Leda of Sparta. Leda slept with both Zeus and her husband, King Tyndareus of Sparta, at different times on the same night. Castor had the king as his father, while Pollux had Zeus as his.

Despite their differences, Castor and Pollux grew up very close with each other. So much so that when Castor died, Pollux pleaded to his father to bring him back. Zeus initially refused, instead offering Pollux immortality and a place with the gods at Olympus. Castor refused Zeus’ offer, and once again asked his father to return his brother instead. Zeus finally relented, reuniting Castor and Pollux together in the heavens as the constellation of Gemini.

The Babylonians had a different version of Gemini.

They called the stars the Great Twins but saw the constellation as two versions of the same god. They named the twins Lugal-irra, meaning “The Mighty King”, and Meslamta-ea, meaning “The One Who Has Arisen from the Underworld”. The Babylonians also saw both gods as aspects of Nergal, the god of plague, and husband of Ereshkigal, goddess of the dead.

The twins stood guard at the gates of the Underworld, keeping the dead from the living and the living from the dead. This led the twins to also become worshiped as guardian gods of gates, doors, and passageways across Mesopotamia.

The Chinese also had their versions of Gemini.

They saw and arranged the stars into two different constellations, and no longer as twins. Instead, the constellations became two out of four guardian beasts of the cardinal directions. Specifically, Baihu, the White Tiger of the West, also known as Byakko in Japanese, and Baekho in Korean.

The second constellation became Zhuque, the Vermillion Bird of the South, known as Suzaku in Japanese, and as Jujak in Korean. Both constellations have their own associations with Oriental mysticism. Baihu is associated with the element of metal and the autumn season. Zhuque, on the other hand, is associated with the element of fire, as well as the summer season.

Image from Adobe Stock

Various other constellations neighbor Gemini.

These include two other constellations of the zodiac, Taurus to the west, and Cancer to the east. Auriga the Charioteer neighbors Gemini to the north, along with Lynx, named after the animal of the same name. Monoceros the Unicorn and Canis Minor, the second and smaller of Orion’s two dogs, both neighbor Gemini to the south.

Orion the Hunter neighbors Gemini to the southwest, along with his first and bigger dog, Canis Major. As for the positions of the twins themselves, Castor makes up the eastern part of the constellation. Similarly, Pollux makes up the western part of the constellation.

Gemini once had an obsolete constellation, Cancer Minor, inside of it.

It literally means “Lesser Crab”, formed by a small cluster of five stars located between Gemini and Cancer. The Dutch astronomer Petrus Plancius observed the stars in either 1612 or 1613 and arranged them into a constellation. That said, his arrangement never truly gained acceptance or even awareness among the 17th-century astronomic community.

By the 18th century, Cancer Minor had largely faded into the background, and from the 19th century onward, had become obsolete. Instead, the stars became counted as part of Gemini. Modern astronomers also note that Plancius’ arrangement of the stars into a crab is somewhat awkward. They observed that the natural association when seeing all five stars at once resulted in an arrow, and not a crab.

A meteor shower, the Geminids, falls from Gemini’s area of the sky.

The Geminids typically start on December 4 every year and continue until December 17. The meteors usually peak around December 14, with up to 160 meteors falling into the Earth’s atmosphere every hour. This actually makes them one of the most active as well as consistent meteor showers in the world.

Geminid meteor shower
Image from Adobe Stock

That said, the Geminids become less visible the further south an observer goes, appearing in equatorial areas during the evenings. Similarly, in the southern hemisphere, the Geminids only become visible around midnight.

Scientists have traced the meteors as fragments back to the asteroid 3200 Phaethon, the closest known asteroid to the Sun. This also makes the Geminids one of only two major meteor showers not resulting from a comet’s debris.

Astronomers have observed various deep space objects in Gemini’s direction.

We’ve already mentioned the M35 cluster, but there’s also the NGC 2158 cluster. Located around 12,000 light-years away from the Earth, composed of an estimated 800 stars so far.

There’s also NGC 2392, also known as the Eskimo Nebula, the Clown-Faced Nebula, as well as the Lion Nebula. William Herschell discovered it in 1787, while modern astronomers describe the nebula’s arrangement around the star as resembling a man’s head in a parka. Located 6,500 light-years away, scientists have also identified the nebula as a planetary one, formed by an old star expelling its outer layers for reasons not yet completely understood.

Gemini also has another planetary nebula, the Medusa Nebula, located around 1,500 light-years from Earth. It also has a neutron star, formed in the aftermath of a supergiant star going supernova. Named Geminga by scientists, it lies only 550 light-years away from the Earth.

Pollux in Gemini also has the name Beta Geminorum.

It’s also twice as heavy as our own Sun, with a size up to nine times the Sun’s radius. Scientists also think it’s exhausted the hydrogen in its core, forcing the star to burn helium as fuel. This has contributed to its greater size, but this also caused its surface to cool to around 4,666 Kelvin, in contrast to the Sun’s surface temperature of 5,778 Kelvin.

Scientists have also detected x-rays coming from Pollux with the ROSAT x-ray telescope and measured it as comparable to the Sun’s own x-ray output. They’ve also measured Pollux’s magnetic field as weaker than the Sun’s own, possibly thanks to Pollux’s age. Scientists have also discovered at least one planet orbiting Pollux, Pollux b, a gas giant with a mass around twice that of Jupiter.

Gemini also has the star Castor, also known as Alpha Geminorum.

Well, astronomers originally observed it as a single star, but modern telescopes have since discovered otherwise. Instead, six stars make up Castor, orbiting so close to each other that older, weaker telescopes saw them as a single star.

That said, British astronomer James Pound hypothesized Castor as a binary star in 1718. Circumstantial evidence also suggests that Italian astronomer Giovanni Cassini may have hypothesized likewise even earlier in 1678.

Of the six stars making up the Castor system, Castor Aa and Ba make up the brightest, each with a mass and size greater than the Sun. In contrast, small and dim red dwarfs make up the other four stars in the Castor system. In fact, the brightness of Castor Aa and Ba has made it difficult for scientists to gather data on their companion stars.

Gamma Geminorum has an Arabic name, Alhena.

It comes from the Arabic term, Al Han’ah, meaning “the brand on the neck of the camel”. This references Arabic astronomers using the star along with several others to form the constellation Al Nuhatai, “the Camel’s Hump”. Alhena has a different name in Chinese, Jing Su san, meaning “the Third Star of Well”, referencing the constellation it’s part of.

The name Alhena itself would later be shared by various ships. Most famously a Dutch vessel that rescued passengers from the sinking Italian liner Principessa Mafalda in 1927. The US Navy also had the USS Alhena in WWII, an attack cargo ship used to carry supplies and men for marine operations. She first saw combat in the Solomon Islands and continued to serve in other major operations in the Pacific. These included the Saipan Campaign, the liberation of the Philippines, as well as the Iwo Jima and Okinawa landings.

Gemini Facts, Principessa Mafalda
Photo from Wikipedia

Delta Geminorum similarly has an Arabic name, Wasat.

It literally means “middle”, referring to its location in the constellation it’s part of. In Chinese, the star has the name Tian Zun er, meaning “the Second Star of Wine Cup”, again referencing the constellation it’s part of.

Scientists estimate that the Delta Geminorum is slightly bigger than the Sun, massing around 1.57 times more than the popular ball of fire. They also estimate its age at only around 1.6 billion years, much younger than the Sun, which is 4.6 billion years old.

Delta Geminorum also forms a triple star system, with the main star orbiting two smaller stars. This also makes it difficult to gather data about the other stars, with scientists only able to class one of them as a Class K star.

Scientists have also discovered that Delta Geminorum’s course around the galaxy will bring it close to the solar system in the next 1.1 million years. Today, Delta Geminorum measures around 60.5 light-years away, but at its closest in the future, it will come within only 6.7 light-years away.

Other stars in Gemini have Arabic names.

These include Epsilon Geminorum, which has the name Mebsuta, meaning “outstretched paw of the lion”. A supergiant star, Mebsuta has over 19 times the Sun’s mass, while also shining up to 175 times as bright. Surprisingly, however, it has a much cooler surface temperature of only 4,662 Kelvin.

Aside from Mebsuta, there’s also Zeta Geminorum, which has the name Mekbuda, meaning “the lion’s folded paw”. Like Mebsuta, Mekbuda has a greater size than the Sun, up to 69 times a fact. It also shines much brighter, up to 2,900 times the Sun’s brightness. Surprisingly, though, it has a similar surface temperature of around 5,780 Kelvin.

Eta Geminorum, in contrast, has a Greco-Persian name, Propus.

Propus itself comes from Ancient Greek, derived from the Persian term, Pishpay, meaning “foreleg”. It’s also a triple star system, with Propus’ companion stars very difficult to study, although scientists have concluded one companion as an M-class star.

Scientists have also identified Propus as a variable star, meaning the light Earth receives from it fluctuates over time. In particular, scientists have noticed how Propus maintains a constant stream of light, before suddenly changing its side and even shape before once again returning to normal. This phenomenon typically repeats every 231 days. Scientists remain uncertain about the specific factors behind Propus and other variable stars’ behavior.

NASA named its Gemini Program after the constellation.

In particular, they planned for the new Gemini series of spacecraft to have room for two astronauts aboard. This contrasted with the previous series of Mercury spacecraft which had room for only one astronaut on board.

As a new generation of spacecraft, NASA planned to use Gemini to close the gap with the Soviet Union in the Space Race. They also planned for it to help develop new technologies for the Apollo program, the design phase of which operated even as Gemini conducted its missions.

Ultimately, Gemini had a total of 12 missions before NASA ended the project, all of them manned. Of those 12 missions, 10 succeeded while two suffered partial failures. Thankfully, no astronauts died during Gemini VIII and IX-A’s failures.

The Gemini Program had its own dedicated training program.

In particular, NASA trained astronauts in three batches, with the second of those batches, the New Nine, specifically trained for the Gemini program. The first batch was called the Mercury Seven. NASA’s third batch of astronauts had the name The Fourteen and received dual training for both Gemini and the planned Apollo program.

Famous astronauts who participated in Gemini include Neil Armstrong, who later became the first man on the Moon. His co-pilot, Buzz Aldrin, who was the second man on the Moon, also served on the Gemini project. Alan Shepard, the first American in space, also served in Gemini. He later went to the Moon with Apollo 14. The last man on the Moon, Eugene Cernan of Apollo 17, also served in the Gemini project.

Gemini Facts, Neil Armstrong
Photo by NASA from Wikipedia

It also had own dedicated launch vehicle, the Gemini-Titan II.

It was also called the Gemini Launch Vehicle (GLV), with its other name Titan II referencing its origin. Specifically, NASA redesigned the Titan II nuclear missile to carry the Gemini spacecraft into space instead of nuclear warheads to other countries. These included the Gemini Malfunction Detection System, which gave the astronauts warning of any malfunction. This, in turn, gave them time to correct the malfunction and time for other necessary measures.

NASA also included redundant systems in the GLV. This ensured that if one part of the rocket failed, it wouldn’t cause complete failure. The GLV also included a new navigational system, given its new purpose to send spacecraft into space. Other changes made to the GLV from the original Titan II included newer engines, bigger fuel tanks, and improved electronic and hydraulic systems.

Gemini IV earned the distinction of America’s first EVA mission.

Launched on June 3, 1965, it carried James McDivitt and Ed White aboard into space. Gemini IV spent four days orbiting Earth a total of 66 times before returning to the surface. This made Gemini IV the first US space mission to reach the Soviet Vostok 5’s then-record of spending five days in space.

That said, Gemini IV’s real highlight involved Ed White leaving the spacecraft while in space. He conducted a 20-minute-long Extra-Vehicular Activity (EVA), the first in US history. Gemini IV also successfully tested the use of a sextant for navigational purposes while in space.

NASA also planned for Gemini IV to make several maneuvers near its discarded GLV upper stage, but the mission failed in this respect. Overall, however, NASA considered Gemini IV a success, with the astronauts returning to the surface on June 7, 1965.

NASA originally planned to expand the Gemini program.

These included the Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) aimed at developing and building space stations for the USA. First announced in 1963, design work and even testing of various components carried on over the following years. However, budget cuts as part of the anti-war movement over the Vietnam War also affected the program. This led to the MOL’s cancellation in 1969.

NASA also originally planned to expand the Gemini project into the Big Gemini project. Big Gemini would have the ability to fly to and orbit the Moon before returning to Earth. It would also follow up on Apollo’s manned missions to the Moon, and returning to the MOL concept, build large space stations for the USA. In the end, though, NASA canceled the plans for Big Gemini. The Skylab project inherited the goal of building a space station, followed by the International Space Station (ISS) later on.

They also used Gemini to test orbital docking methods.

This began with Gemini VIII in March 1966, which successfully docked with the unmanned Agena target vehicle in space. Gemini X repeated this success in July of the same year. They earned this achievement by safely firing Agena’s rockets while still docked to Gemini.

In September 1966, Gemini XI not only docked with Agena but did so immediately after arriving in orbit, just over an hour since launch. This made it the fastest ever orbital docking in history, a record Gemini XI still holds in 2022. These missions proved to NASA the practicality of orbital docking. It also successfully tested various technologies later used in the Apollo program, as well as Skylab and even the Space Shuttle.

Gemini Facts, Gemini VIII and Agena
Photo by NASA from Wikipedia

Gemini’s various hardware have met different fates after the program’s end.

Gemini II currently rests in the Air Force Space and Missile Museum at Cape Canaveral in Florida. Meanwhile, Gemini III found its home at Grissom Memorial in Mitchell, Indiana, dedicated to the astronaut Gus Grissom, the second American in space.

Washington D.C.’s National Air and Space Museum has Gemini IV, while NASA’s own Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, has Gemini V on exhibit. Gemini VI went to Stafford Air & Space Museum in Oklahoma, and Gemini VII went to Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia.

Gemini VIII went to Armstrong Air and Space Museum in Ohio, while Gemini IX stayed with NASA at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Kansas Cosmosphere has Gemini X and the California Museum of Space and Industry Gemini XI.

Finally, Illinois’ Adler Planetarium has Gemini XII. Only Gemini I didn’t become a museum exhibit, resulting from its status as an unmanned test vehicle. This, in turn, saw it deliberately burn up in Earth’s atmosphere in April 1964.

Astrologers associate various traits with people born under Gemini.

Astrologers consider Geminis to have volatile personalities while also being intelligent and thoughtful. They’re also supposed to prefer settling down in one place instead of constantly being on the move. Geminis also tend to have persuasive qualities, finding it easy to convince other people to adopt their own opinions and beliefs.

That said, they ironically also find it difficult to commit to a single person, making it hard to form lasting relationships. This makes them appear crass, abrasive, or even flighty. Some people may also find Geminis absent-minded, as their minds tend to quickly jump from one subject to another.

It is claimed that history had an Age of Gemini between 6480 and 4320 BC.

Astrologers claim the Age of Gemini as one marked by a balance between extremes. The world at the time constantly struggled with widespread war and disease, while also enjoying widespread cultural development.

Astrologers point to the rise of ancient civilizations at this time as proof, such as Sumer and Ancient Egypt. These ancient civilizations fought against each other in bloody wars, but between those wars peacefully traded with and learned from each other.

Astrologers also claim gender equality as a trait of the Age of Gemini, as shown in the mixed genders of the polytheistic pantheons at the time. In contrast to the strictly patriarchal monotheistic religions of the following ages, the deities of the Age of Gemini include both men and women.

Famous actress Angelina Jolie is a Gemini.

Born on June 4, 1975, in Los Angeles, California, Angelina Jolie has since become among Hollywood’s most successful actresses. She debuted as a child actress in the 1982 comedy film Lookin’ to Get Out but first received a starring role a decade later in 1992’s Cyborg 2. She followed this up in 1995 with a starring role in the film Hackers and eventually won an Academy Award for her role in Girl, Interrupted in 1999.

However, she truly became an international sensation in 2001, for playing the title character in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. She continued to play major roles in succeeding years, such as in Mr. and Mrs. Smith (2005), Wanted (2008), Salt (2010), and The Tourist (2010). Her biggest success, though, took place in 2014, when she played the role of Maleficent in the movie of the same name. Jolie has also earned recognition as a voice actress in the Kung Fu Panda franchise, providing the voice for Master Tigress.

Late singer and musician Prince was also a Gemini.

Born on June 7, 1958, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Prince Roger Nelson would become one of the greatest musicians of his generation. In particular, he became famous for his flamboyant and even androgynous stage personality, as well as his wide vocal range. His music ranged across various genres, such as funk, new wave, R&B, pop, rock, soul, and synth-pop, among others.

Gemini Facts, Prince
Image from Wikipedia

Prince made his debut in 1978, with his album For You recorded by Warner Brothers. He made his big break with his 1980 album Dirty Mind and similarly debuted as an actor with Purple Rain in 1984. He also provided the soundtrack for the film.

In 1993, he abandoned the stage name of Prince for an unpronounceable symbol known to his fans as the Love Sign. He also sometimes referred to himself as The Artist Formerly Known As Prince (TAFKAP), or simply as The Artist. Prince died in 2016 from a drug overdose, resulting in a mild controversy among his relatives over the disposition of his estate.

Johnny Depp is a Gemini.

Born on June 9, 1963, in Owensboro, Kentucky, Depp became one of the greatest film stars of the ’90s, as well as the early 21st century. Debuting in 1984’s A Nightmare on Elm Street, he made his big break in 1990 with Edward Scissorhands.

His greatest successes, though, came from his role as Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. He also became famous for his role as Willy Wonka in the 2005 film, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Guinness World Records listed him in 2012 as the highest-paid actor in the world, earning an estimated $75 million per year.

Depp later played Gellert Grindelwald in the Fantastic Beasts franchise, but later lost this role over allegations of abuse by his ex-wife, Amber Heard. Depp sued the British tabloid The Sun for spreading the allegations in 2018 but was unsuccessful. In 2022, the tables have turned, when he won the case against Heard for defamation. He also received widespread support on social media, with some arguing his case against Heard is a case of trial by publicity.

The rapper Notorious BIG was a Gemini too.

Born on May 21, 1972, Christopher George Latore Wallace is one of the most successful rappers of all time. Wallace originally picked a different stage name at the start of his career in 1992, Biggie Smalls. When he discovered that the name was already taken, he switched to Notorious BIG.

He made his big break two years later in 1994, with the album Ready to Die. It made him a major artist in East Coast hip hop, even allowing the region to compete against the West Coast which dominated the genre at the time.

Notorious BIG also became known among critics for the dissonance of his musical style. He combined a laid-back delivery which contrasted sharply with dark themes in the lyrics. Notorious BIG’s success, however, also dragged him into a very public feud between hip-hop artists from the West and East Coasts of the USA. He particularly feuded with Tupac Shakur, to the point that he became a suspect after Shakur’s murder in 1996.

Notorious BIG was murdered in 1997, with investigators suspecting it a revenge kill. Despite their efforts, no arrests have ever taken place over Notorious BIG’s death.

Queen Victoria was a Gemini as well.

Born Alexandrina Victoria on May 24, 1819, Queen Victoria became Queen of Britain and Empress of India in 1837. She ruled until her death in 1901. Her son Edward VII succeeded her as both King of Britain and Emperor of India.

The Victorian Age was named after her, primarily because of how Britain stood as the most powerful nation on Earth. The British Empire ruled over an estimated one-third of the world’s surface, leading to its title as “the Empire where the Sun never sets”. That said, many historians argue that Victoria’s reputation exaggerated her status. In particular, they pointed out how in her reign the British monarchy already had limited authority, with the queen only serving as a figurehead while the Parliament had all the real power.

However, historians admit that Victoria became a trendsetter for fashion and cultural preferences at the time. They also note how she exercised significant influence on foreign policy. This led to her nickname of “the Grandmother of Europe”, for marrying her children off to foreign monarchs. The British government supported this in the hope that linking the European dynasties together would prevent a war.

Ultimately, this hope proved meaningless, with Victoria’s grandsons, Wilhelm II of Germany, George VI of Britain, and Nicholas II of Russia all unable to stop the outbreak of WWI in 1914.

Former US President John F. Kennedy was a Gemini.

One of the most famous US Presidents of them all, John F. Kennedy came from Boston, Massachusetts. Born on May 29, 1917, his family had a political background. His father Joseph Kennedy Sr. served as US Ambassador to Britain in WWII.

Kennedy himself served in the US Navy during the war and entered politics in the aftermath. He served in the US House of Representatives from 1947 to 1953, then the Senate from 1953 to 1960. His victory in the 1960 Presidential Election made him the youngest man to ever become President of the USA, aged only 43 at the time. In particular, he became known for his pledge during his election campaign to put a man on the Moon before the Soviets could.

That said, Kennedy had a mixed track record as President. He supported continued US involvement in the Vietnam War and failed to stop Fidel Castro from seizing power in Cuba. The following failed Bay of Pigs invasion further humiliated the USA. However, Kennedy redeemed himself by refusing to compromise on the presence of Soviet nuclear missiles on Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis. This later led to the signing of the Partial Test Ban (PTB) Treaty in 1963.

Kennedy also had a reputation as a womanizer, including a supposed affair with the famous actress Marilyn Monroe. He ultimately died before the end of his term, during his infamous assassination on November 23, 1963. Although the FBI arrested and later successfully prosecuted Lee Harvey Oswald for Kennedy’s assassination, inconsistencies in the case led to various conspiracies about his death.

Another former US President, George H.W. Bush, was also a Gemini.

Born on June 12, 1924, George H.W. Bush originally came from Milton, Massachusetts, and later served in the US Navy during WWII. He successfully founded an oil business after the war, before entering politics in 1966 as a Texan member of the US House of Representatives. He later became US Ambassador to the UN, then US Ambassador to China, and then CIA Director.

Gemini Facts, George H.W. Bush
Photo from Wikipedia

Bush resigned in 1980 to become Ronald Reagan’s running mate, and with Reagan’s victory, became Vice President of the USA. Reagan later supported Bush when he ran for President in 1988, which helped Bush win the elections.

As President of the USA, Bush led the country during the Fall of Communism. He also supported German reunification over protests from Britain and France. Later, he led the country in the Gulf War, liberating Kuwait from Iraqi occupation. Bush also signed the North American Free Trade Area (NAFTA) Treaty with Canada and Mexico in 1992.

However, Bush ultimately lost the 1992 elections to Bill Clinton, over controversies relating to the Gulf War, an economic recession, and the introduction of new taxes. His son, George W. Bush, would later become US President in 2000.

Former US President Donald Trump is the most infamous Gemini of modern times.

Born on June 14, 1946, Donald Trump has since been dubbed one of the worst Presidents in US history. Ironically, before he entered politics, Trump enjoyed widespread fame and respect for his reputation as one of the USA’s top businessmen. He might be best known for his aggressive leadership style, as shown in the reality TV show The Apprentice.

That said, even then Trump already courted controversy as a supposedly-successful businessman. Even before becoming president, he already has an estimated 4,000 local and even federal court cases. Trump’s businesses have also previously suffered at least six bankruptcies. In 2016, Trump ran as the Republican candidate, and while losing the popular vote to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, won the electoral college to become the 45th President of the USA.

As President, Trump’s controversy deepened over his support for hard-right figures and groups, including white supremacists. He also engaged in a trade war with China, which met a mixed reception from both Republicans and Democrats. He also tightened immigration into the USA, even trying — and failing — to build a wall between Mexico and the USA, as part of his America First policy.

However, his biggest controversy resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic. Trump downplayed its threat and even ignored the opinions of the scientific and medical communities. All this contributed to his loss in the 2020 Presidential Elections to Joe Biden, but Trump quickly alleged that he only lost thanks to electoral fraud.

This resulted in right-wing rioters storming the Capitol on January 6, 2021. The rioters aimed to force Congress to declare Trump the winner instead of Biden. The investigation about his involvement with the insurrection continues to this day.

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