Stargazing: Gemini: Fairbanks, AK, USA: 2024-01-05

I've been sick this last week, so I had to give up a number of stargazing opportunities during the recent clear weather. But this morning I woke up around 3am, a little earlier than normal, and I was feeling a little better, so I decided to rush off to the boat launch. After showering and several other chores, I made it to the boat launch about 4:15am. I considered bringing my PowerSeeker 127EQ, but decided instead to just bring my field guide and the Skymaster 12x60 binocs.

The waning crescent moon had just come up above the horizon, but I had decent sky darkness toward the West. I decided to focus on Gemini, which is a constellation I had never studied before. He is a reproduction in Stellarium, trying to match the brightness levels I remember:

Western sky

Western sky (with overlays)

Though the constellation art depicts two twins, to me it looks more like a long narrow rectangle, with the corners being α, β, γ, and μ Gemini. With decent sky darkness, I was struck right away by the richness of the view in the binoculars. There were very many dim background stars everywhere that I looked.

The first place I focused on was the triplet of bright stars on the western corner, namely, μ, η, and 1 Gemini. There is a rich area of stars in-between and a little north of μ and η. Likewise, there is an interesting view in-between and a little north of η and 1 Gemini, including cluster M35. The star μ is M3 spectrum (orange-red).

field around μ and η Gemini

field around μ and η Gemini (with overlays)

field around η and 1 Gemini

field around η and 1 Gemini (with overlays)

I spent some time looking around δ Gemini, hoping to see NGC 2392, a planetary nebula. But think it is actually much too small to be observed with my binoculars.

field around δ Gemini

field around δ Gemini (with overlays)

The brighter stars around β Gemini look to me like a bird's foot, with φ,

c, and ν being the forward "toes" and σ being the back claw.

field around β Gemini

field around β Gemini (with overlays)

There is also a triangle-like triplet of stars around α Gemini.

field around α Gemini

field around α Gemini (with overlays)

And inside of the rectangle is ι Gemini, and a bunch of other interesting star patterns nearby.

field around ι Gemini

field around ι Gemini (with overlays)

All praise to the Creator who let me enjoy this beautiful early-morning light show. Now that I'm more familiar with Gemini, I'm hoping I'll have another opportunity soon to look at it with the PowerSeeker 127EQ.

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