As seen from around the world on January 24, 2013, the brilliant waxing gibbous moon shines in front of – or near – the constellation Gemini the Twins. At nightfall tomorrow, on January 25, everyone around the world will see a larger waxing gibbous moon in front of Gemini and closer to the stars Castor and Pollux.
Castor and Pollux will probably be bright enough to withstand the drenching moonlight for the next several nights. You might even see these Gemini stars on night of the full moon this coming January 26. However, to view the constellation Gemini in all its starlit majesty, you absolutely need a moonless night.
If you’re familiar with the constellation Orion the Hunter, try star-hopping to Castor and Pollux from Orion’s two brightest stars – Betelgeuse and Rigel – tonight. By the time early February comes rolling around, the moon will be out of the evening sky. In February, use Orion’s two brightest stars to locate Castor and Pollux, and to appreciate Gemini’s presence in a dark, moonless sky.
Sky chart of the constellation Gemini the Twins
A dark sky provides a fine target for ordinary binoculars: the M35 star cluster. This splashy and beautiful cluster resides in western Gemini and near the ecliptic. In fact, the sun has its conjunction with this star cluster on or near June 23 every year.
Let the moon show you Gemini tonight, and then let Orion’s two brightest stars escort you to Gemini once the moon leaves the evening sky.