orion in the night sky

One of the most interesting constellations in the northern hemisphere’s night sky during  winter is Orion, the hunter. The Egyptians called him Osiris, god of the underworld. Much of the constellation is visible with both the naked eye and with binoculars.

The brightest star of the constellation is Betelgeuse, a red super giant. It is located left in Orion’s shoulder. It is about 427 light years from earth and is so large that if it was to replace our sun, its outer surface would extend between Mars and Jupiter. The other star in Orion’s shoulder on the right is Bellatrix, a blue super giant. It lies about 240 light years from earth and is one of the hotter naked eye stars. The most important star in Orion's lower body (the foot at the right) is Rigel, a blue-white super giant. It is over twice the distance from earth as Betelgeuse, somewhere between 700 and 900 light years.

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Last modified: Friday, 8 June 2012, 8:41 PM