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Looking Up: Not So Wile E. While He…

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This week on Looking Up guest host Bruce Bookout is back to finish the 2nd part of the Gemini Twins saga.

The famous stellar twins.
Credit earthsky.org
The famous stellar twins.

Rising high in the spring skies of southern Colorado is the constellation of the twins - Gemini.  Look after sunset high in the west for the two bright stars above Orion – Castor and Pollux.  Let’s pair up on last month’s discussion.

Here in the Americas, the Navajo tell the story of the First Woman placing the constellations in the sky, helped by the First Man and the Coyote.  She put two identical stars into the heavens and had named them "the twins." The Coyote picked up the two identical stars, one in each hand, and walked up the shaky cosmic ladder. Coyote became dizzy and almost fell. When he reached the sky, he looked at the stars in his hands; he could not tell them apart and did not know which one went to the right or which to the left. So he closed his eyes and placed them. First Woman met him at the foot of the ladder with angry words and fierce gestures. "Now look what you have done!" she cried. "Those two were supposed to establish peace and friendship among all peoples of the earth. Now they will cause malice, strife, and dissension that will plague mankind forever. You shall carry no more stars to the sky!"

Among Native American tribes, twins were common in creation stories. They represented both sides and a balance between good and evil, male and female, light and dark and all other dualities. In some tribes twins combined heroism with the mischievous behavior of Tricksters.  Talk about your terrible twos!

If you’d like to take a closer look at Gemini, or any of the other wonderful and amazing things in the sky, please visit CSASTRO.org for a link to information on our monthly meetings and our free public star parties!