Mekbuda (Zeta Geminorum)
One of the sky's few easily visible Cepheid
variables. Lying in the constellation Gemini,
Mekbuda changes from magnitude 3.7 to 4.1 and back every 10.2 days. Its
Arabic name refers to a "lion's paw," a larger Arabic figure that
overlaid our modern constellations, and at one time may have more referred
to one of Gemini's luminaries, Castor or Pollux. Mekbuda, positioned just
southwest of brighter Wasat (Delta Geminorum), shines yellow-white and has
a temperature similar to that of the Sun. There, however, the similarity
ends because Mekbuda is an aging supergiant.
Through a small telescope, it appears to have a faint companion one arc-minute
arc away, but this is a line-of-sight coincidence. The bright star itself,
however, does seem to have a true faint companion that can't be resolved
||3.7 to 4.1
||R.A. 07h 04m 06.5s,
Dec. +20° 34' 13"