Orion Constellation Facts

The Orion Constellation is one of the most recognizable constellations in the night sky, being named and described in Greek mythology as Orion, a hunter who was a great warrior. In Greek mythology, he died at the hands of Artemis after provoking that goddess’ wrath.

The Hunter Constellation, Orion, is one of the most brilliant in the sky , and has been known since antiquity. It is located on the celestial equator and its declination can reach up to 13 degrees north or south depending on the time of the year. Thus, it is visible from both hemispheres.

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Why Orion Constellation Is Important

In Astronomy , the constellation of Orion is very important, for many reasons. First, it is one of the most visible and brightest constellations in the sky. It’s also very large, occupying an area of 1079 square degrees.

It can be seen from all over the world because its location never changes relative to Earth’s horizon and equator.

Orion is best seen during the month of January, and it’s one of the easiest constellations to recognize in the sky because its stars are well-distributed. Orion can be found by looking southeast or southwest on a clear night.

The Orion constellation’s main asterism is made up of 7 stars that form an hourglass shape of 2 parallel lines of 3 stars each, with a solitary star at the center of the imaginary line of the hourglass.

The constellation also has two other asterisms: The Belt and Orion’s Sword, which is made up by three bright stars. Inside Orion there are several objects that are extremely interesting for astronomers.

Related: Cygnus Constellation

Betelgeuse

This star is a red supergiant. It’s one of the largest stars in our galaxy , being about 800 times bigger than the Sun. If we placed it in our Solar System, Betelgeuse would extend out to between the orbits of Jupiter and Saturn. Located about 640 light years away from us, this star has a high possibility of exploding someday in a Type II supernova.

It has a luminosity of about 75,000 times that of the Sun.

Rigel

Another red supergiant located in Orion, Rigel is one of the brightest stars in our sky. If it replaced the Sun in our Solar System , at only 8.6 light years away from us , it would extend out past the orbit of Jupiter.

Rigel has a luminosity that equals 100,000 times that of the Sun and, together with Betelgeuse, it forms one of the two vertices of the Winter Triangle (the other vertex is formed by Sirius) .

M42:

M42 is a diffuse nebula located in Orion’s sword, at a distance of 1,344 light years from us. It’s also known as the Orion Nebula and is an easy target for small telescopes or even binoculars. The nebula itself measures about 24 light years across and it contains the open cluster NGC 1981, which includes the stars of Trapezium.

Related: Andromeda

What Is Orion’s Belt and How Many Stars in Orion Belt?

Orion’s Belt is another important asterism in the constellation. It’s made up by 3 stars positioned in line and perpendicular to the imaginary line of the hourglass formed by Orion, which are located at a distance between 415 and 575 light years from Earth. These stars are Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka.

Alnitak

This is, without a doubt, one of the most magnificent stars in the sky. It’s part of Orion’s belt, together with Alnilam and Mintaka, forming an asterism which represents Saiph, who was Orion’s right leg.

Alnitak is a very special star, for many reasons. First of all, it has a luminosity that is 30,000 times greater than the Sun. Also, it emits radiation waves in the ultraviolet spectrum, which makes it a blue-white supergiant and one of the most beautiful stars in our galaxy. It’s also a double star, consisting of three stars that revolve around each other. The star is located 800 light years away from us and it’s the easternmost of the stars in Orion’s belt. It has a radius seven times greater than that of our Sun.

Related: Perseus Constellation

Mintaka

Another blue-white supergiant, Mintaka is located in the Orion’s belt, together with Alnilam and Alnitak. Mintaka has a luminosity that is 22,000 times greater than that of our Sun . It also has two companions, which are both stars of 10 solar masses.

Alnilam

We mentioned before that Alnilam is one of the Three Kings of Orion, together with Mintaka and Alnitak. It’s also the farthest star in the constellation that is visible to the naked eye. Alnilam has a luminosity that is 25,000 times greater than our Sun. Its age is one million years old, which makes it also one of the youngest stars.

Related: Leo Constellation

How to Find Orion’s Belt

Finding the Orion’s Belt in the sky is pretty easy. First, you need to identify Orion himself. This task could be a bit difficult because he’s a very large constellation and many objects are grouped together in his area of ​​the sky. Once you find Orion, you only have to look for three stars that make up a row and those are the stars that form Orion’s Belt.

What is Orion Nebula? How Far Away Is the Orion Nebula?

Orion Nebula is an interstellar cloud of dust, hydrogen, helium and other ionized gases located in the constellation Orion . It has a distance between 1,344 and 1,500 light years from Earth.

A classic example of a stellar nursery, the Orion Nebula is one of the most spectacular deep sky objects and it’s also visible to the naked eye. The star formation process in this nebula represents one of the major stages in the life cycle of a massive star and it’s estimated that some 4,700 stars are being formed currently.

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What is Orion’s Sword?

Orion’s sword is another asterism which belongs to the constellation Orion . It was named after an equally famous asterism, the Orion’s Belt. It represents the sword of Orion, which is held by the Hunter in his left hand. In this area of ​​the sky, there are still a lot of nebulas and star formations, such as the Horsehead Nebula , M43 and NGC 2023 .

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Why Is Orion only Visible During Part of The Year?

To understand why Orion is visible during part of the year, you have to realize that it’s present in the Northern Hemisphere sky. This means that, every time Earth passes through this area of ​​the sky, Orion can be seen. During January and February, he’s located on the northeastern horizon, while during October and November he’s in the eastern part of the sky. This is because Earth is in a different position in relation to Orion every 6 months, which makes it visible during about half a year.

Related: Pegasus Constellation

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