Tuesday 19 September 2017 - 21:17:53 Posted by  Bobby

 Mythology of Orion

Orion is the most magnificent of all the constellations. Being positioned on the celestial equator, it is visible from most places on Earth. It represents a hunter with his dogs (marked by Canis Major and Canis Minor) at his heels. In Greek mythology, Orion was the son of Poseidon, the sea god. He was supppsedly killed by the sting of a scorpion, and his position in the sky is such that he sets as the scorpion (the constellation Scorpius) rises. According to another story, Orion became enamored of a group of nymphs called the Pleiades, depicted by a star cluster in the adjoing constellation of Taurus. As the Earth turns, Orion seems to chase the Pleiades across the sky. The constellation contains several bright stars, but its most celebrated feature is the huge nebula (M42) that lies within the hunters sword, south of the line of the three stars marking his belt.

 The Facts

  • Depiction: The Hunter
  • Pronounced: Oh-RYE-un
  • Genitive: Orionis
  • Abbreviation: Ori
  • Highest in the Sky: December to January
  • Size Ranking: 26th
  • Coverage Area: 594 Sq. Degrees
  • Right Acension: 5 hours
  • Declination:
  • Visibility: 75°N to 65°S

 Notable Objects

  • Alpha Orionis: Red supergiant
  • IC 434: Horsehead Nebula
  • M42: Orion Nebula
  • NGC 1981: Open cluster
  • Trapezium: Nebula
  • Zeta Orionis: Double star

 Named Stars

  • Betelgeuse, Alpha Orionis
  • Rigel, Beta Orionis
  • Bellatrix, Gamma Orionis
  • Mintaka, Delta Orionis
  • Alnilam, Epsilon Orionis
  • Alnitak, Zeta Orionis
  • Saiph, Kappa Orionis
  • Meissa, Lambda Orionis

 Best Viewed Objects/Stars

Alpha Orionis (Betelgeuse)

 A red supergiant star of variable brightness ranging from about magnitude 0 to 1.3 every 6 years or so. It lies 430 light-years away. The name Betelgeuse is derived from an Arabic term that incorporates a reference to a hand, although the star actually lies on the hunter's shoulder.

Beta Orionis (Rigel)

 A blue supergiant star of magnitude 0.2, the brightest star in the constellation and the seventh brightest in the sky. It is 770 light-years away. The name Rigel is derived from an Arabic word meaning "foot," which is the part of the hunter's body that the star represents.

Theta-1 Orionis (The Trapezium)

 A multiple star, located at the heart of the Orion Nebula. A small telescope shows its a quadruple star with components of magnitudes 5.1, 6.7, and 8.0 arranged in a trapezium shape. A larger aperture reveals two other 11th-magnitude stars in the group.

Theta-2 Orionis

 A double star. The two stars, magnitudes 5.0 and 6.4, are divisible through binoculars. Theta-2 also forms a wide, bright binocular double with Theta-1 Orionis.

Iota Orionis

 A double star. The two components of magnitudes 2.8 and 7.0 can be split with a small telescope. Binoculars show another double nearby: called Struve 747, it consists of stars of magnitudes 4.8 and 5.7.

Sigma Orionis

 A remarkable multiple star. The main star of magnitude 3.8 has two 7th-magnitude companions to one side and a 9th-magnitude companion on the other. A faint triple star, called Struve 761, should be visible in the same telescopic field of view.

M42 (The Orion Nebula)

 One of the most spectacular objects in the sky. It is a cloud of glowing gas with an apparent diameter of over twice that of the full Moon. Visible to the naked eye, it becomes larger and more complex when viewed with binoculars or telescopes of increasing aperture. It is 1,500 light-years away and is lit up by the stars of the Trapezium Orionis, that lie within it. A northern extension of the nebula is known as M43.

NGC 1981

 A large, scattered open cluster visible with binoculars, its brightest stars being of 6th magnitude. The cluster appears to the north of the Orion Nebula and lies at almost the same distance from us, 1,300 light-years.

Horsehead Nebula

 A dark nebula shaped like a chess knight, seen silhouetted against a strip of brighter nebulosity that extends south from Zeta Orionis. However, it is too faint to be viewed without a large telescope, and its shape is most easily seen on a long-exposure photograph.


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