Mars and Gemini, April 17, 2006. This image shows the full length of the constellation Gemini. If you know the night sky you'll see something out of place here. The bright "star" to the far right, just below the mid-point is Mars. On this night it was less than a degree above a beautiful open cluster of hundreds of stars called M35, which shows as a fuzzy patch in the photograph. M35 is barely visible to the naked eye on moonless nights with no light pollution. It's located about 2,800 light years away. The faint puff of light just to the lower right of M35 is another star cluster called NGC 2158. It is similar to M35, but it's located about 16,000 light years away. The two bright stars to the upper left of the photo are Pollux and Castor, the heads of the Gemini twins. The two bright angled stars to the lower left of Mars are said to represent Castor's foot.
Two years after this photograph was taken Mars was once again near this location. Here is a close-up view of Mars and M35.
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