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Orion July 23, 2009

Posted by heritageag in Astronomy.
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Orion as depicted in Urania's Mirrow, a set of constellation cards published in London in 1825.

Orion as depicted in Urania's Mirrow, a set of constellation cards published in London in 1825.

Lauren Hopper has her blog at:   http://heritageag.wordpress.com/

This great hunter in the sky has been my favorite constellation for as long as I can remember.  Any clear dark night available I try to find those three diamonds in his belt.

The constellation Orion is one of the largest, most obvious and most recognizable constellations in the sky.  Orion includes a group of stars known as the ‘belt’ of Orion. These three bright stars in a row (aka. The Three Kings) make up the line of his belt. Surrounding the belt are four bright stars, which are considered to represent the outline of Orion’s body. Descending from the belt is a smaller line of stars that make up the hunter’s sword.  One of these stars is not exactly a star but the Orion Nebula.

The surrounding constellations are often shown to be related to Orion.  He is shown standing next to the river Eridanus.  He is accompanied by his two hunting dogs Canis Major and Canis Minor.  Orion is also shown fighting Taurus the bull. He is also often times illustrated hunting

Orion has often times been a useful tool to find other stars and constellations.  If you extend the line of Orion’s belt out southeastward you can find the star Sirius. If you extend his belt out northwestward you will find the star Aldebaran. If you extend a line eastward across his two shoulders you will find the star Procyon.  You can also extend a line through Rigel and Betelgeuse and find the stars Castor and Pollux.

Illustration showing how to use Orion to find neighbor stars.

Illustration showing how to use Orion to find neighbor stars.

Some other interesting facts about the constellation Orion are: there is a meteor shower that reaches its peak around Oct. 21 each year. It’s named the Orionid Meteor Shower.  It has been know that you can see at least 20 meteors per hour at times.

Orionids Meteor Shower

Orionids Meteor Shower

The constellation Orion is over 1,000 light-years deep.  It’s nearest star Rigel being 900 light-years away and its farthest Kappa which is around 2,100 light years away. The constellation is over 700 light-years wide.  You can look for Orion high in the SE in the January early evenings or just after twilight on the meridian in February.  In March it will still be noticeable in the early evenings in the SW.

Information from:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orion_(constellation)

Craig Crossen & Wil Tirion “Binocular” Astronomy 2nd Edition”

www.nightskyhunter.com

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