Glow in the dark mural of the constellation Orion with spiral galaxy, Pleiades (Matariki) star cluster, crescent Moon and comet.

Orion ~ The Mighty Hunter of the Night Sky

Orion is one of our most well loved star constellations. Orion is named after a legendary hunter from Greek mythology and is most visible in the summer skies of the southern hemisphere and in the winter sky for the north. The three bright stars of Orions belt are hard to miss!

At Orion’s shoulders and legs you'll see two brilliant stars, Betelgeuse and Rigel, at opposite ends of the celestial hunter. Betelgeuse, a red supergiant, shines with a warm, reddish glow, while Rigel dazzles with brilliant blue-white radiance.

An interesting fact about Betelgeuse (the name means the giant’s shoulder) is that this massive red star is on the verge of becoming a supernova. That means it could explode anytime in the next few thousand years and when it does, it may be so bright it will be visible even in daylight. 

Rigel, the blue supergiant (the Arabic name means foot) is still a young star. Young stars are hotter and appear blue compared to red stars that are cooler and dying.

Within Orions sword, the row of of 3 stars hanging from the belt, is the Orion Nebula. The nebula looks like the middle star in the sword. It’s an amazingly beautiful cloud of star dust where new stars are born. It's like a stellar nursery for baby stars.

Other Stars of Orion include: 
Bellatrix, a blue giant, marks Orion's left shoulder. 
Mintaka, the faintest of Orion's Belt stars, is a multiple star system. 
Alnilam, a blue supergiant, is the brightest Belt star. 
Alnitak, the easternmost Belt star, is a triple star system. 
Saiph, Orion's right foot, is similar to Rigel. 
Meissa, forming Orion's head, is a multiple star system known as the "shining one."

orion constellation star names

In Greek mythology, the renowned hunter Orion met his demise at the hands of a scorpion. This mythical encounter left an indelible mark on the night sky, as Orion and Scorpius dwell at opposite ends of the sky, locked in an eternal narrative. As Orion descends toward the western horizon, Scorpius ascends in the east, perpetuating an unending cosmic pursuit.

orion setting in the west and scorpius rising in the east

Adding to the mythological tapestry are Orion's loyal hunting dogs, Canis Major and Canis Minor. These stellar canine companions faithfully follow their master across the heavens.

orion the hunter star constellation and his two dogs canis major and canis minor in the night sky

The constellation Orion is also referenced in the Bible, notably in the Book of Job. In Job 9:9, Job reflects on God's power over creation, "He is the Maker of the Bear and Orion, the Pleiades and the constellations of the south." This reference describes the divine creation of the constellations, including Orion, as a testament to God's power in forming the cosmos. Job 38:31-32 also mentions Orion as part of a divine dialogue, "Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades? Can you loosen the cords of Orion? Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons?" Here, Pleiades and Orion are singled out as celestial entities subject to God's command, emphasising both the majesty of creation and the divine authority over the celestial realm in biblical thought.

Happy star gazing! Esther :)

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