Universe Guide

Pollux (Beta Geminorum, 78 Geminorum) Star Facts

Pollux Facts

  • Pollux is a giant star that can be located in the constellation of Gemini. The description is based on the spectral class.
  • Pollux is a main star of the constellation outline.
  • Based on the spectral type (K0IIIvar) of the star, the star's colour is orange to red .
  • Pollux is the 17th brightest star in the night sky and is the brightest star in Gemini based on the Hipparcos 2007 apparent magnitude. The star can be seen with the naked eye, that is, you don't need a telescope/binoculars to see it.
  • Pollux has at least 1 Extrasolar Planets believed to be in orbit around the star.
  • Pollux has a radius that is 8.80 times bigger than the Suns. Radius
  • Using the most recent figures given by the 2007 Hipparcos data, the star is 33.79 light years away from us. Distance

Information on Pollux

Pollux is the star that is the head of the left twin in the Geminiconstellation. The other head is the star Castor. It is one of a few number of stars with common names that have Extrasolar planet orbiting around it. The reason for this most other stars with Common names are giants and are at the ends of their lives such as Betelgeuse in the constellation of Orion.

Although it is growing in size, having used up its hydrogen supplies, its solar system is still able to host a planet orbiting it. The planet is believed to be a gas giant that is about 2.3 times the size of Jupiter and orbits round Pollux about 590 days. ref:space.

Pollux's Alternative Names

Beta Geminorum (Bet Gem) is the Bayer Classification for the star. The Bayer Classification was created by Johann Bayer in 1603. The brightest star in the constellation is normally given the Alpha designation, there are exceptions such as Pollux which is Beta Geminorum.

The Id of the star in the Yale Bright Star Catalogue is HR2990. HIP37826 is the reference name for the star in the Hipparcos Star Catalogue. The Id of the star in the Henry Draper catalogue is HD62509. The Gliese ID of the star is GL 286. The star was part of the original catalogue devised by German Astronomer Wilheim Gliese of stars located within 20 parsecs of Earth. Star Names

Flamsteed designations are named after the creator, Sir John Flamsteed. Sir John named the stars in the constellation with a number and its latin name, this star's Flamsteed designation is 78 Geminorum. The Flamsteed name can be shortened to 78 Gem.

BD number is the number that the star was filed under in the Durchmusterung or Bonner Durchmusterung, a star catalogue that was put together by the Bonn Observatory between 1859 to 1903. The star's BD Number is BD+28 1463.

More details on objects' alternative names can be found at Star Names .

Location of Pollux

The location of the giant star in the night sky is determined by the Right Ascension (R.A.) and Declination (Dec.), these are equivalent to the Longitude and Latitude on the Earth. The Right Ascension is how far expressed in time (hh:mm:ss) the star is along the celestial equator. If the R.A. is positive then its eastwards. The Declination is how far north or south the object is compared to the celestial equator and is expressed in degrees. For Pollux, the location is 07h 45m 19.36 and +28° 01` 34.7 .

Radial Velocity and Proper Motion of Pollux

Proper Motion

All stars like planets orbit round a central spot, in the case of planets, its the central star such as the Sun. In the case of a star, its the galactic centre. The constellations that we see today will be different than they were 50,000 years ago or 50,000 years from now. Proper Motion details the movements of these stars and are measured in milliarcseconds. The star is moving -45.80 ± 0.14 milliarcseconds/year towards the north and -626.55 ± 0.27 milliarcseconds/year east if we saw them in the horizon.

Radial Velocity

The Radial Velocity, that is the speed at which the star is moving away/towards the Sun is 3.23 km/s with an error of about 0.02 km/s . When the value is negative then the star and the Sun are getting closer to one another, likewise, a positive number means that two stars are moving away. Its nothing to fear as the stars are so far apart, they won't collide in our life-time, if ever.

Physical Properties of Pollux

Pollux Temperature and Colour

Based on the star's spectral type of K0IIIvar , Pollux's colour and type is orange to red giant star. The star's effective temperature is 4,666 Kelvin which is cooler than our own Sun's effective Temperature which is 5,777 Kelvin

Pollux Luminosity

Luminosity is the amount of energy that a star pumps out and its relative to the amount that our star, the Sun gives out. The figure of 44.40 that I have given is based on the value in the Simbad Hipparcos Extended Catalogue at the University of Strasbourg from 2012.

Pollux Radius

Pollux Radius has been calculated as being 8.80 times bigger than the Sun. The Sun's radius is 695,800km, therefore the star's radius is an estimated 6,123,040.00.km. If you need the diameter of the star, you just need to multiple the radius by 2.

Pollux Mass

The Pollux's solar mass is 1.91 times that of our star, the Sun. The Sun's Mass is 1,989,100,000,000,000,000,000 billion kg. which to calculate using this website is too large. To give idea of size, the Sun is 99.86% the mass of the solar system.

Pollux Metalicity

The star's metallicity is 0.190000, this value is the fractional amount of the star that is not Hydrogen (X) or Helium (Y). An older star would have a high metallicity whereas a new star would have a lower one.

Pollux Apparent and Absolute Magnitudes

Pollux has an apparent magnitude of 1.16 which is how bright we see the star from Earth. Apparent Magnitude is also known as Visual Magnitude. If you used the 1997 Parallax value, you would get an absolute magnitude of 1.09 If you used the 2007 Parallax value, you would get an absolute magnitude of 1.08. Magnitude, whether it be apparent/visual or absolute magnitude is measured by a number, the smaller the number, the brighter the Star is. Our own Sun is the brightest star and therefore has the lowest of all magnitudes, -26.74. A faint star will have a high number.

Distance to Pollux

Using the original Hipparcos data that was released in 1997, the parallax to the star was given as 96.74 which gave the calculated distance to Pollux as 33.72 light years away from Earth or 10.34 parsecs. If you want that in miles, it is about 198,227,247,583,751.33, based on 1 Ly = 5,878,625,373,183.61 miles.

In 2007, Hipparcos data was revised with a new parallax of 96.54 which put Pollux at a distance of 33.79 light years or 10.36 parsecs. It should not be taken as though the star is moving closer or further away from us. It is purely that the distance was recalculated.

Using the 2007 distance, the star is roughly 2,136,888.50 Astronomical Units from the Earth/Sun give or take a few. An Astronomical Unit is the distance between Earth and the Sun. The number of A.U. is the number of times that the star is from the Earth compared to the Sun. The star's Galacto-Centric Distance is 7,409.00 Parsecs or 24,165.44 Light Years. The Galacto-Centric Distance is the distance from the star to the Centre of the Galaxy which is Sagittarius A*.

Travel Time to Pollux

The time it will take to travel to this star is dependent on how fast you are going. U.G. has done some calculations as to how long it will take going at differing speeds. A note about the calculations, when I'm talking about years, I'm talking non-leap years only (365 days).

The New Horizons space probe is the fastest probe that we've sent into space at the time of writing. Its primary mission was to visit Pluto which at the time of launch (2006), Pluto was still a planet.

DescriptionSpeed (m.p.h.)Time (years)
Airbus A38073630,788,228.12
Speed of Sound (Mach 1)767.26929,533,495.94
Concorde (Mach 2)1,534.5414,766,728.72
New Horizons Probe33,000686,670.78
Speed of Light670,616,629.0033.79

Source of Information

The source of the information if it has a Hip I.D. is from Simbad, the Hipparcos data library based at the University at Strasbourg, France. Hipparcos was a E.S.A. satellite operation launched in 1989 for four years. The items in red are values that I've calculated so they could well be wrong. Information regarding Metallicity and/or Mass is from the E.U. Exoplanets. The information was obtained as of 12th Feb 2017.

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Additional Pollux Facts and Figures

Visual Facts

Primary / Proper / Traditional NamePollux
Alternative NamesBeta Geminorum, Bet Gem, HD 62509, HIP 37826, HR 2990, 78 Geminorum, 78 Gem, BD+28 1463, Gliese 286
Spectral TypeK0IIIvar
Constellation's Main StarYes
Multiple Star SystemYes
Star TypeGiant Star
ColourOrange to Red
GalaxyMilky Way
Absolute Magnitude 1.09 / 1.08
Visual / Apparent Magnitude1.16
Naked Eye VisibleYes - Magnitudes
Right Ascension (R.A.)07h 45m 19.36
Declination (Dec.)+28° 01` 34.7
Galactic Latitude23.41 degrees
Galactic Longitude192.23 degrees
1997 Distance from Earth96.74 Parallax (milliarcseconds)
 33.72 Light Years
 10.34 Parsecs
2007 Distance from Earth96.54 Parallax (milliarcseconds)
 33.79 Light Years
 10.36 Parsecs
 2,136,888.50 Astronomical Units
Galacto-Centric Distance24,165.44 Light Years / 7,409.00 Parsecs
Proper Motion Dec.-45.80 ± 0.14 milliarcseconds/year
Proper Motion RA.-626.55 ± 0.27 milliarcseconds/year
B-V Index0.99
Radial Velocity3.23 ± 0.02 km/s
Iron Abundance0.08 ± 9.99 Fe/H
Semi-Major Axis9100.00
Stellar Luminosity (Lsun)44.40
Brightest in Night Sky17th

Companions (Multi-Star and Exoplanets) Facts

Exoplanet Count1

Estimated Calculated Facts

Radius (x the Sun)8.80
Effective Temperature4,868 Kelvin
Mass Compared to the Sun1.91

Sources and Links

SIMBAD SourceLink

Multi-Star System

The star has been identified as being a multi-star system, one in which there is at least one star in close orbit to another star or two or more stars orbiting a central point. The stars may be of equal mass, unequal mass where one star is stronger than the other or be in groups orbiting a central point which doesn't necessarily have to be a star. More information can be found on my dedicated multiple star systems page. The source of the info is Simbad. The file is dated 2000 so any differences between this and any other source will be down to the actual source from where the information came from.

Proper Motion mas/yr
H.D. IdB.D. IdStar CodeMagnitudeR.A.Dec.SpectrumColourYear
62509+28 1463.0A1.20000-626.00000-51.00000K0Orange
+28 1465.0F10.400001924

Location of Pollux in Gemini

Pollux Location in Gemini

The map was generated using Night Vision, an awesome free application by Brian Simpson.

List of Extrasolar Planets orbiting Pollux

NameStatusMass (Jupiters)Orbital Period (Days)EccentricityDiscoveredSemi-Major AxisPeriastron
HD 62509 bConfirmed0.1589.6400.0220061.69354.580

Gemini Main Stars

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