Orion Constellation – Stars, Facts, Mythology, The Belt & More

Orion Constellation

Orion is a well-known constellation located on the celestial equator. It is one of the most easily noticed and recognizable constellations in the night sky. It is able to be seen throughout the world.

Orion is the 26th largest constellation in size, occupying an area of 594 square degrees. Orion is most famously depicted from the Greek myths, as a hunter in the sky, wielding a shield in the right hand and a sword in the left.

Where is Orion located in the sky?

It is located in the first quadrant of the northern hemisphere (NQ1) and can be seen at latitudes between +85° and -75°. The neighboring constellations are Eridanus, Gemini, Lepus, Monoceros and Taurus.

Orion belongs to the Orion family of constellations, along with Canis Major, Canis Minor, Lepus and Monoceros. The constellation contains three Messier objects – Messier 42 (M42, NGC 1976, Orion Nebula), Messier 43 (M43, NGC 1982, De Mairan’s Nebula), and Messier 78 (M78, NGC 2068) – and has seven stars with known planets.

Straddling the celestial equator, it is visible from almost anywhere on Earth, a prominent feature of the northern winter sky and of the southern summer sky.

How many stars are there in the Orion constellation & what are their names?

orion constellation star names

The constellation Orion contains 10 formally named stars. The star names approved by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) are Alnilam, Alnitak, Bellatrix, Betelgeuse, Hatysa, Meissa, Mintaka, Rigel, Saiph, and Tabit.

Betelgeuse, a variable star, is easily distinguished by its reddish colour and is the 11th brightest star in the sky, with a magnitude of 0.6. Orion’s brightest star, Rigel, located in the hunter’s leg, has a magnitude of 0.1 and is the seventh brightest star in the sky. 

The third brightest star in the constellation is Bellatrix. Orion’s girdle, or belt—consisting of three bright stars—lies nearly on the celestial equator. 

His sword, south of the belt, contains the great Orion Nebula, an emission nebula containing hundreds of young stars, which is visible to the unaided eye. Faint extensions of this nebula fill almost the whole constellation.

In total, Orion is home to 10% of the seventy brightest stars, despite covering only 1.4% of the sky.

At a distance of around 250 pc (800 lightyears), these stars are not unusually close to the Earth. However, they are very large, luminous stars that shine brightly even from a long distance.

Which is the brightest star in the Orion Constellation?

Rigel or Beta Orionis is the brightest star in the Orion constellation. Rigel is a blue supergiant star in the constellation of Orion, approximately 860 light-years (260 pc) from Earth.

Rigel is calculated to be anywhere from 61,500 to 363,000 times as luminous as the Sun, and 18 to 24 times as massive, depending on the method and assumptions used. Its radius is more than seventy times that of the Sun, and its surface temperature is 12,100 K. 

What is the story of the Orion Constellation in Greek mythology?

orion the hunter constellation

Orion was a hunter in Greek mythology. There are various stories about his birth as well as the way he died.

In Greek mythology, the hunter Orion was the most handsome of men. According to the oldest version, he was the son of the god Poseidon and Euryale, daughter of King Minos of Crete. Thanks to his father, Orion had the ability to walk on water, which is how he reached the island of Chios. 

There, after drinking too much, he made sexual advances to Merope, the daughter of the local king. King Oenopion had him blinded and removed from the island. Blind Orion reached the island of Lemnos, which was the place where god Hephaestus had his forge. 

Helped by Hephaestus and his servant Cedalion, Orion reached the East where the sun god Helios restored his eyesight. 

He then went to Crete and hunted with the huntress goddess Artemis and her mother Leto; he was so enthusiastic that he declared he would kill every animal in the world. Gaea, the goddess of the Earth, got angry and sent a giant scorpion which successfully killed Orion. 

Upon hearing the news, Artemis and Leto asked Zeus to put their fellow hunter on the skies; Zeus agreed and turned Orion into a constellation, as well as the Scorpion that killed him.

Some legends have him as the son of Poseidon. He is associated with the island of Chios, from which he is said to have driven the wild beasts. There he fell in love with Merope, daughter of the king of Chios, Oenopion. The king, who disapproved of Orion and continually deferred the nuptials, eventually had Orion blinded.

His vision restored by the rays of the rising sun, Orion is said to have gone to Crete to live with Artemis as a hunter. 

Accounts of his death vary widely: some legends have him killed by Artemis for trying to rape her, others of Apollo’s jealousy over Artemis’ love of Orion; still other legends have him killed by a monstrous scorpion. 

After his death he was placed among the stars, and he can be identified (somewhat fancifully) by his club, lion’s skin, girdle (or belt), and sword. In the sky he chases the Pleiades and is himself pursued by Scorpio, the scorpion.

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What is the story of Orion and the seven sisters?

orion and the seven sisters

According to the ancient Greeks, the Pleiades were seven sisters. In Greek, the word “pleiades” means “doves.” Their parents were Pleione and Atlas who were condemned by Zeus to support the Heavens on his shoulders. One day, the Pleiades were traveling with their mother and met the hunter Orion.

Orion fell in love with Pleione and her charming daughters. He spent a great deal of time chasing after them, trying to win their affection. 

After several years, Zeus intervened and transformed the women into doves to help them escape. They flew into the sky to become the cluster of stars that today has their name.

What is the relationship between the Orion belt & the Pyramids of Giza? Are Pyramids aligned with the Orion belt?

orions belt pyramids of giza

Conventional archeology tells us the great pyramids at Giza were built as tombs for the pharaohs of ancient Egypt. Constructed during the Old Kingdom’s fourth dynasty 4500 years ago, the monuments have been shrouded in mystery for millennia. 

Built with incredible accuracy and containing many puzzling features, the true purpose of the pyramids has inspired endless speculation.

The Orion correlation theory (or Giza–Orion correlation theory) is a fringe theory in alternative Egyptology.

This theory states that – with precision and an eye to the sky, the great builders of the pyramids replicated Orion’s belt on the sands of Egypt. 

We know from old religious writings, that the ancient Egyptians believed that the gods descended from the belt of Orion. Furthermore, Sirius (the brightest star in the sky) and these gods took the form of human beings. As a result, Orion became associated with the god Osiris. Sirius associated with the goddess Isis. Together they created all of the human civilization.

Their size and placement also take into account both the visible brightness and location of the stars within Orion’s belt. 

Consequently, the two larger pyramids line up perfectly in comparison to the smaller offset pyramid of Menkuare.

Is Big Dipper part of the Orion belt?

orions belt and big dipper

Two of the most recognizable star patterns in the night sky are the belt of Orion and the Big Dipper. These two “asterisms” are in separate constellations.

The Big Dipper is part of the constellation Ursa Major, a large region of the sky that represents a great bear. The dipper consists of seven stars, with three forming the handle of the dipper and the other four composing the bowl.

Orion’s belt consists of three stars in the middle of the Orion constellation that are so close together they look as if they could be the hunter’s belt. 

By following a straight line from right to left through Orion’s belt, an individual can trace a path to Sirius, the brightest star in the evening heavens, within the constellation Canis Major.

What is the spiritual meaning of Orion’s belt?

Orion is the most prominent constellation that is visible throughout the world. This constellation was held to symbolize many gods and mythical figures across ancient civilizations all around the world.

The Orion’s Belt looked almost the same in ancient times as it does now. In ancient Egyptian mythology, Orion and the bright star Sirius represent Osiris and Isis. Ancient Egyptians believed that the gods descended from Sirius and the Belt of Orion, and instigated the human race.

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