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Blog # 6 – Orion

March 25, 2012

One of my mother’s favorite constellation is Orion (the Great Hunter).  She likes it because it is one of the easiest constellations to see.  It is one a few constellations that can be seen in both the northern and southern hemispheres.  You can see it best in January.  It has about 81 stars with the closest star, GJ3379, being 17.1 light years away.    At one of his knees is Rigel which is a blue giant and is one of the brightest stars we see.  Betelgeuse is an unstable red super giant that forms one of Orion’s shoulders and it is another very bright star.  It is so large that if it replaced Earth, it would go all the way to Mars or more.  Its other main stars include Salph and Bellatrix and the three stars that make up Orion’s belt which are Mintaka, Alnilan, and Alnitak.  They point to the constellation Taurus the Bull which Orion is fighting.  His dog Sirius is the brightest star after the Sun and it is in the constellation Canis Major near his feet.  Below his belt is his sword which contains the Orion nebula (M43) which is 20,000 times bigger than our solar system.    It is a cloud of gas and dust that glows from the energy of young new stars.  Another popular nebula in this constellation is the horsehead nebula.  Between October 15 and October 29 within the constellation you might see the Orinids meteor shower which appears when the Earth passes through the dust of Haley’s comet.  If you look out in the sky on a clear night you should be able to see and enjoy this constellation too.

 

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2 Comments
  1. Orion is one of my favorites too. I like that you mentioned the Orionids! 🙂

  2. It’s my favorite too! Mostly because it’s one of the only constellations I can most always spot 😛

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