What's Up in Space
This Weekend’s Night Sky (28 February – 1 March 2015)
The bright stars Castor and Pollux are easy to spot at this time of year, marking the heads of Gemini the twins. They can found in the north after sunset a little below and to the left of bright Jupiter.
Pollux, the brighter of the two stars, is the 17th brightest star in our night sky. It is about 35 light years away from us. Whilst Castor is in fact a sextuple star system located 52 light years from Earth.
Nearby to eta Geminorum, at the foot of the twin of Castor, is the open star cluster M35. Under good conditions it can be seen with the unaided eye as a hazy star, but binoculars or a wide-field telescope will reveal more detail and are the best way to view this lovely cluster.
Saturn is now rising in the east before midnight. It sits just below the claws of Scorpius the scorpion, our winter constellation in the southern hemisphere. In New Zealand this constellation is known as Te Matau a Māui, the fish hook of Māui, that Māui used to pull the great fish out of the ocean that became the North Island of New Zealand.
Saturn is a wonderful sight through even a modest small telescope, which will reveal its beautiful rings and its largest moon, Titan.