Orion (constellation)

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Coordinates: Jupiter and moon.png 05h 30m 00s, +00° 00′ 00″

Orion IAU.svg
Genitive Orionis
Pronunciation /ɒˈr.ən/
Symbolism Orion, the Hunter
Right ascension 5h
Declination +5°
Area 594 sq. deg. (26th)
Main stars 7
Stars with planets 10
Stars brighter than 3.00m8
Stars within 10.00 pc (32.62 ly)8
Brightest star Rigel (β Ori) (0.12 m )
Messier objects 3
Meteor showers Orionids
Chi Orionids
Visible at latitudes between +85° and −75°.
Best visible at 21:00 (9 p.m.) during the month of January.
Click on to see large image Orion 3008 huge.jpg
Click on to see large image

Orion is a prominent constellation located on the celestial equator and visible throughout the world. It is one of the most conspicuous [1] and recognizable constellations in the night sky. [2] It is named after Orion, a hunter in Greek mythology. Its brightest stars are blue-white Rigel (Beta Orionis) and red Betelgeuse (Alpha Orionis).


History and mythology

The earliest known depiction linked to the constellation of Orion is a prehistoric (Aurignacian) mammoth ivory carving found in a cave in the Ach valley in West Germany in 1979. Archaeologists estimate that it is 32,000 to 38,000 years old. [3] [4] [5] The distinctive pattern of Orion is recognized in numerous cultures around the world, and many myths are associated with it. Orion is used as a symbol in the modern world.

Ancient Near East

Orion (constellation) Art Orion (constellation) Art.svg
Orion (constellation) Art

The Babylonian star catalogues of the Late Bronze Age name Orion MULSIPA.ZI.AN.NA, [note 1] "The Heavenly Shepherd" or "True Shepherd of Anu" – Anu being the chief god of the heavenly realms. [6] The Babylonian constellation is sacred to Papshukal and Ninshubur, both minor gods fulfilling the role of 'messenger to the gods'. Papshukal is closely associated with the figure of a walking bird on Babylonian boundary stones, and on the star map the figure of the Rooster is located below and behind the figure of the True Shepherd—both constellations represent the herald of the gods, in his bird and human forms respectively. [7]

In ancient Egypt, the stars of Orion were regarded as a god, called Sah. Because Orion rises before Sirius, the star whose heliacal rising was the basis for the Solar Egyptian calendar, Sah was closely linked with Sopdet, the goddess who personified Sirius. The god Sopdu is said to be the son of Sah and Sopdet. Sah is syncretized with Osiris, while Sopdet is syncretized with Osiris' mythological wife, Isis. In the Pyramid Texts, from the 24th and 23rd centuries BC, Sah is one of many gods whose form the dead pharaoh is said to take in the afterlife. [8]

The Armenians identified their legendary patriarch and founder Hayk with Orion. Hayk is also the name of the Orion constellation in the Armenian translation of the Bible. [9]

The Bible mentions Orion three times, naming it "Kesil" (כסיל, literally – fool). Though, this name perhaps is etymologically connected with "Kislev", the name for the ninth month of the Hebrew calendar (i.e. November–December), which, in turn, may derive from the Hebrew root K-S-L as in the words "kesel, kisla" (כֵּסֶל, כִּסְלָה, hope, positiveness), i.e. hope for winter rains.: Job 9:9 ("He is the maker of the Bear and Orion"), Job 38:31 ("Can you loosen Orion's belt?"), and Amos 5:8 ("He who made the Pleiades and Orion").

In ancient Aram, the constellation was known as Nephîlā′, the Nephilim are said to be Orion's descendants. [10]

Greco-Roman antiquity

In Greek mythology, Orion was a gigantic, supernaturally strong hunter, [11] born to Euryale, a Gorgon, and Poseidon (Neptune), god of the sea. One myth recounts Gaia's rage at Orion, who dared to say that he would kill every animal on Earth. The angry goddess tried to dispatch Orion with a scorpion. This is given as the reason that the constellations of Scorpius and Orion are never in the sky at the same time. However, Ophiuchus, the Serpent Bearer, revived Orion with an antidote. This is said to be the reason that the constellation of Ophiuchus stands midway between the Scorpion and the Hunter in the sky. [12]

The constellation is mentioned in Horace's Odes (Ode 3.27.18), Homer's Odyssey (Book 5, line 283) and Iliad , and Virgil's Aeneid (Book 1, line 535)

Middle East

In medieval Muslim astronomy, Orion was known as al-jabbar, "the giant". [13] Orion's sixth brightest star, Saiph, is named from the Arabic, saif al-jabbar, meaning "sword of the giant". [14]


In China, Orion was one of the 28 lunar mansions Sieu (Xiù) (宿). It is known as Shen (參), literally meaning "three", for the stars of Orion's Belt. (See Chinese constellations)

The Chinese character 參 (pinyin shēn) originally meant the constellation Orion (Chinese :參宿; pinyin :shēnxiù); its Shang dynasty version, over three millennia old, contains at the top a representation of the three stars of Orion's belt atop a man's head (the bottom portion representing the sound of the word was added later). [15]


The Rigveda refers to the Orion Constellation as Mriga (The Deer). [16]

Orion, photographed from Kuantan, Malaysia Belantik at Kuantan.jpg
Orion, photographed from Kuantan, Malaysia

Nataraja, 'the cosmic dancer', is often interpreted as the representation of Orion. Rudra, the Rigvedic form of Shiva, is the presiding deity of Ardra nakshatra (Betelgeuse) of Hindu astrology. [17]

The Jain Symbol carved in Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves, India in 1st century BCE [18] has striking resemblance with Orion.

Bugis sailors identified the three stars in Orion's Belt as tanra tellué, meaning "sign of three". [19]

European folklore

Star formation in the constellation Orion as photographed in infrared by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope Sig07-006.jpg
Star formation in the constellation Orion as photographed in infrared by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope

In old Hungarian tradition, "Orion" is known as (magic) Archer (Íjász), or Reaper (Kaszás). In recently rediscovered myths, he is called Nimrod (Hungarian "Nimród"), the greatest hunter, father of the twins "Hunor" and "Magor". The "π" and "o" stars (on upper right) form together the reflex bow or the lifted scythe. In other Hungarian traditions, "Orion's belt" is known as "Judge's stick" (Bírópálca). [20]

In Scandinavian tradition, "Orion's belt" was known as Frigg's Distaff (friggerock) or Freyja's distaff. [21]

The Finns call Orion's belt and the stars below it Väinämöisen viikate (Väinämöinen's scythe). [22] Another name for the asterism of Alnilam, Alnitak and Mintaka is Väinämöisen vyö (Väinämöinen's Belt) and the stars "hanging" from the belt as Kalevanmiekka (Kaleva's sword).

In Siberia, the Chukchi people see Orion as a hunter; an arrow he has shot is represented by Aldebaran (Alpha Tauri), with the same figure as other Western depictions. [23]


The Seri people of northwestern Mexico call the three stars in the belt of Orion Hapj (a name denoting a hunter) which consists of three stars: Hap (mule deer), Haamoja (pronghorn), and Mojet (bighorn sheep). Hap is in the middle and has been shot by the hunter; its blood has dripped onto Tiburón Island. [24]

The same three stars are known in Spain and most of Latin America as "Las tres Marías" (Spanish for "The Three Marys"). In Puerto Rico, the three stars are known as the "Los Tres Reyes Magos" (Spanish for The three Wise Men). [25]

The Ojibwa (Chippewa) Native Americans call this constellation Kabibona'kan, the Winter Maker, as its presence in the night sky heralds winter.[ citation needed ]

To the Lakota Native Americans, Tayamnicankhu (Orion's Belt) is the spine of a bison. The great rectangle of Orion is the bison's ribs; the Pleiades star cluster in nearby Taurus is the bison's head; and Sirius in Canis Major, known as Tayamnisinte, is its tail. Another Lakota myth mentions that the bottom half of Orion, the Constellation of the Hand, represented the arm of a chief that was ripped off by the Thunder People as a punishment from the gods for his selfishness. His daughter offered to marry the person who can retrieve his arm from the sky, so the young warrior Fallen Star (whose father was a star and whose mother was human) returned his arm and married his daughter, symbolizing harmony between the gods and humanity with the help of the younger generation. The index finger is represented by Rigel; the Orion Nebula is the thumb; the Belt of Orion is the wrist; and the star Beta Eridani is the pinky finger. [26]


The seven primary stars of Orion make up the Polynesian constellation Heiheionakeiki which represents a child's string figure similar to a cat's cradle.

Contemporary symbolism

The imagery of the belt and sword has found its way into popular western culture, for example in the form of the shoulder insignia of the 27th Infantry Division of the United States Army during both World Wars, probably owing to a pun on the name of the division's first commander, Major General John F. O'Ryan.[ citation needed ]

The film distribution company Orion Pictures used the constellation as its logo. [27]


Orion in the 9th century Leiden Aratea Aratea 58v.jpg
Orion in the 9th century Leiden Aratea

In artistic renderings, the surrounding constellations are sometimes related to Orion: he is depicted standing next to the river Eridanus with his two hunting dogs Canis Major and Canis Minor, fighting Taurus. He is sometimes depicted hunting Lepus the hare. He sometimes is depicted to have a lion's hide in his hand.

There are alternative ways to visualise Orion. From the Southern Hemisphere, Orion is oriented south-upward, and the belt and sword are sometimes called the saucepan or pot in Australia and New Zealand. Orion's Belt is called Drie Konings (Three Kings) or the Drie Susters (Three Sisters) by Afrikaans speakers in South Africa [28] and are referred to as les Trois Rois (the Three Kings) in Daudet's Lettres de Mon Moulin (1866). The appellation Driekoningen (the Three Kings) is also often found in 17th- and 18th-century Dutch star charts and seaman's guides. The same three stars are known in Spain, Latin America, and the Philippines as "Las Tres Marías" (The Three Marys), and as "Los Tres Reyes Magos" (The three Wise Men) in Puerto Rico. [25]

Even traditional depictions of Orion have varied greatly. Cicero drew Orion in a similar fashion to the modern depiction. The Hunter held an unidentified animal skin aloft in his right hand; his hand was represented by Omicron2 Orionis and the skin was represented by the 5 stars designated Pi Orionis. Kappa and Beta Orionis represented his left and right knees, while Eta and Lambda Leporis were his left and right feet, respectively. As in the modern depiction, Delta, Epsilon, and Zeta represented his belt. His left shoulder was represented by Alpha Orionis, and Mu Orionis made up his left arm. Lambda Orionis was his head and Gamma, his right shoulder. The depiction of Hyginus was similar to that of Cicero, though the two differed in a few important areas. Cicero's animal skin became Hyginus's shield (Omicron and Pi Orionis), and instead of an arm marked out by Mu Orionis, he holds a club (Chi Orionis). His right leg is represented by Theta Orionis and his left leg is represented by Lambda, Mu, and Epsilon Leporis. Further Western European and Arabic depictions have followed these two models. [23]


The constellation of Orion, as it can be seen by the naked eye. Lines have been drawn. OrionCC.jpg
The constellation of Orion, as it can be seen by the naked eye. Lines have been drawn.

Orion is bordered by Taurus to the northwest, Eridanus to the southwest, Lepus to the south, Monoceros to the east, and Gemini to the northeast. Covering 594 square degrees, Orion ranks twenty-sixth of the 88 constellations in size. The constellation boundaries, as set by Belgian astronomer Eugène Delporte in 1930, are defined by a polygon of 26 sides. In the equatorial coordinate system, the right ascension coordinates of these borders lie between 04h 43.3m and 06h 25.5m, while the declination coordinates are between 22.87° and −10.97°. [29] The constellation's three-letter abbreviation, as adopted by the International Astronomical Union in 1922, is "Ori". [30]

Orion is most visible in the evening sky from January to April, [31] winter in the Northern Hemisphere, and summer in the Southern Hemisphere. In the tropics (less than about 8° from the equator), the constellation transits at the zenith.

In the period May–July (summer in the Northern Hemisphere, winter in the Southern Hemisphere), Orion is in the daytime sky and thus invisible at most latitudes. However, for much of Antarctica in the Southern Hemisphere's winter months, the Sun is below the horizon even at midday. Stars (and thus Orion, but only the brightest stars) are then visible at twilight for a few hours around local noon, just in the brightest section of the sky low in the North where the Sun is just below the horizon. At the same time of day at the South Pole itself (Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station), Rigel is only 8° above the horizon, and the Belt sweeps just along it. In the Southern Hemisphere's summer months, when Orion is normally visible in the night sky, the constellation is actually not visible in Antarctica because the sun does not set at that time of year south of the Antarctic Circle. [32] [33]

In countries close to the equator (e.g., Kenya, Indonesia, Colombia, Ecuador), Orion appears overhead in December around midnight and in the February evening sky.

Using Orion to find stars in neighbor constellations Orion-guide dark.svg
Using Orion to find stars in neighbor constellations

Orion is very useful as an aid to locating other stars. By extending the line of the Belt southeastward, SiriusCMa) can be found; northwestward, AldebaranTau). A line eastward across the two shoulders indicates the direction of ProcyonCMi). A line from Rigel through Betelgeuse points to Castor and PolluxGem and β Gem). Additionally, Rigel is part of the Winter Circle asterism. Sirius and Procyon, which may be located from Orion by following imaginary lines (see map), also are points in both the Winter Triangle and the Circle. [34]


Orion as depicted in Urania's Mirror, a set of constellation cards published in London c.1825 Sidney Hall - Urania's Mirror - Orion (best currently available version - 2014).jpg
Orion as depicted in Urania's Mirror , a set of constellation cards published in London c.1825

Orion's seven brightest stars form a distinctive hourglass-shaped asterism, or pattern, in the night sky. Four stars—Rigel, Betelgeuse, Bellatrix, and Saiph—form a large roughly rectangular shape, at the center of which lies the three stars of Orion's BeltAlnitak, Alnilam, and Mintaka. Descending from the "belt" is a smaller line of three stars, Orion's Sword (the middle of which is in fact not a star but the Orion Nebula), also known as the hunter's sword.

Many of the stars are luminous hot blue supergiants, with the stars of the belt and sword forming the Orion OB1 Association. Standing out by its red hue, Betelgeuse may nevertheless be a runaway member of the same group.

Bright stars

Bright stars of Orion
Bayer designationLight yearsApparent magnitude
Betelgeuse α Orionis6240.42
Rigel β Orionis7720.18
Bellatrix γ Orionis2451.64
Mintaka δ Orionis9162.20
Alnilam ε Orionis1,3421.69
Alnitak ζ Orionis8001.88
Saiph κ Orionis6502.07
Meissa λ Orionis1,0423.47


Orion's Belt or The Belt of Orion is an asterism within the constellation. It consists of the three bright stars Zeta (Alnitak), Epsilon (Alnilam), and Delta (Mintaka). Alnitak is around 800 light years away from earth and is 100,000 times more luminous than the Sun; much of its radiation is in the ultraviolet range, which the human eye cannot see. [42] Alnilam is approximately 1340 light years away from Earth, shines with magnitude 1.70, and with ultraviolet light is 375,000 times more luminous than the Sun. [43] Mintaka is 915 light years away and shines with magnitude 2.21. It is 90,000 times more luminous than the Sun and is a double star: the two orbit each other every 5.73 days. [44] In the Northern Hemisphere, Orion's Belt is best visible in the night sky during the month of January around 9:00 pm, when it is approximately around the local meridian. [2]

Just southwest of Alnitak lies Sigma Orionis, a multiple star system composed of five stars that have a combined apparent magnitude of 3.7 and lying 1150 light years distant. Southwest of Mintaka lies the quadruple star Eta Orionis.


Orion's Sword contains the Orion Nebula, the Messier 43 nebula, the Running Man Nebula, and the stars Theta Orionis, Iota Orionis, and 42 Orionis.

Three stars comprise a small triangle that marks the head. The apex is marked by Meissa (Lambda Orionis), a hot blue giant of spectral type O8 III and apparent magnitude 3.54, which lies some 1100 light years distant. Phi-1 and Phi-2 Orionis make up the base. Also nearby is the very young star FU Orionis.


Stretching north from Betelgeuse are the stars that make up Orion's club. Mu Orionis marks the elbow, Nu and Xi mark the handle of the club, and Chi1 and Chi2 mark the end of the club. Just east of Chi1 is the Mira-type variable red giant U Orionis.


West from Bellatrix lie six stars all designated Pi Orionis (π1 Ori, π2 Ori, π3 Ori, π4 Ori, π5 Ori and π6 Ori) which make up Orion's shield.

Meteor showers

Around 20 October each year the Orionid meteor shower (Orionids) reaches its peak. Coming from the border with the constellation Gemini as many as 20 meteors per hour can be seen. The shower's parent body is Halley's Comet. [45]

Deep-sky objects

This view brings out many fainter features, such as Barnard's Loop. Orion Head to Toe.jpg
This view brings out many fainter features, such as Barnard's Loop.

Hanging from Orion's belt is his sword, consisting of the multiple stars θ1 and θ2 Orionis, called the Trapezium and the Orion Nebula (M42). This is a spectacular object that can be clearly identified with the naked eye as something other than a star. Using binoculars, its clouds of nascent stars, luminous gas, and dust can be observed. The Trapezium cluster has many newborn stars, including several brown dwarfs, all of which are at an approximate distance of 1,500 light-years. Named for the four bright stars that form a trapezoid, it is largely illuminated by the brightest stars, which are only a few hundred thousand years old. Observations by the Chandra X-ray Observatory show both the extreme temperatures of the main stars—up to 60,000 kelvins—and the star forming regions still extant in the surrounding nebula. [46]

M78 (NGC 2068) is a nebula in Orion. With an overall magnitude of 8.0, it is significantly dimmer than the Great Orion Nebula that lies to its south; however, it is at approximately the same distance, at 1600 light-years from Earth. It can easily be mistaken for a comet in the eyepiece of a telescope. M78 is associated with the variable star V351 Orionis, whose magnitude changes are visible in very short periods of time. [47] Another fairly bright nebula in Orion is NGC 1999, also close to the Great Orion Nebula. It has an integrated magnitude of 10.5 and is 1500 light-years from Earth. The variable star V380 Orionis is embedded in NGC 1999. [48]

Another famous nebula is IC 434, the Horsehead Nebula, near ζ Orionis. It contains a dark dust cloud whose shape gives the nebula its name.

NGC 2174 is an emission nebula located 6400 light-years from Earth.

Besides these nebulae, surveying Orion with a small telescope will reveal a wealth of interesting deep-sky objects, including M43, M78, as well as multiple stars including Iota Orionis and Sigma Orionis. A larger telescope may reveal objects such as Barnard's Loop and the Flame Nebula (NGC 2024), as well as fainter and tighter multiple stars and nebulae.

All of these nebulae are part of the larger Orion Molecular Cloud Complex, which is located approximately 1,500 light-years away and is hundreds of light-years across. It is one of the most intense regions of stellar formation visible within our galaxy.


Animation showing Orion's proper motion from 50000 BC to 50000 AD. Pi3 Orionis moves the most rapidly. OrionProper.gif
Animation showing Orion's proper motion from 50000 BC to 50000 AD. Pi3 Orionis moves the most rapidly.

Orion is located on the celestial equator, but it will not always be so located due to the effects of precession of the Earth's axis. Orion lies well south of the ecliptic, and it only happens to lie on the celestial equator because the point on the ecliptic that corresponds to the June solstice is close to the border of Gemini and Taurus, to the north of Orion. Precession will eventually carry Orion further south, and by AD 14000, Orion will be far enough south that it will no longer be visible from the latitude of Great Britain. [49]

Further in the future, Orion's stars will gradually move away from the constellation due to proper motion. However, Orion's brightest stars all lie at a large distance from the Earth on an astronomical scale—much farther away than Sirius, for example. Orion will still be recognizable long after most of the other constellations—composed of relatively nearby stars—have distorted into new configurations, with the exception of a few of its stars eventually exploding as supernovae, for example Betelgeuse, which is predicted to explode sometime in the next million years. [50]

See also

Related Research Articles

Bayer designation Star naming system

A Bayer designation is a stellar designation in which a specific star is identified by a Greek or Latin letter followed by the genitive form of its parent constellation's Latin name. The original list of Bayer designations contained 1,564 stars. The brighter stars were assigned their first systematic names by the German astronomer Johann Bayer in 1603, in his star atlas Uranometria. Bayer catalogued only a few stars too far south to be seen from Germany, but later astronomers supplemented Bayer's catalog with entries for southern constellations.

Carina (constellation) Constellation in the southern celestial hemisphere

Carina is a constellation in the southern sky. Its name is Latin for the keel of a ship, and it was the southern foundation of the larger constellation of Argo Navis until it was divided into three pieces, the other two being Puppis, and Vela.

Rigel Star in the constellation Orion

Rigel, designated β Orionis, is a blue supergiant star in the constellation of Orion, approximately 860 light-years (260 pc) from Earth. Rigel is the brightest and most massive component – and the eponym – of a star system of at least four stars that appear as a single blue-white point of light to the naked eye. A star of spectral type B8Ia, 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. Due to its stellar wind, Rigel's mass-loss is estimated to be ten million times that of the Sun. With an estimated age of seven to nine million years, Rigel has exhausted its core hydrogen fuel, expanded, and cooled to become a supergiant. It is expected to end its life as a type II supernova, leaving a neutron star or a black hole as a final remnant, depending on the initial mass of the star.

Betelgeuse is usually the tenth-brightest star in the night sky and, after Rigel, the second-brightest in the constellation of Orion. It is a distinctly reddish semiregular variable star whose apparent magnitude, varying between +0.0 and +1.6, has the widest range displayed by any first-magnitude star. At near-infrared wavelengths, Betelgeuse is the brightest star in the night sky. Its Bayer designation is α Orionis, Latinised to Alpha Orionis and abbreviated Alpha Ori or α Ori.

Orion Nebula Diffuse nebula in the constellation Orion

The Orion Nebula is a diffuse nebula situated in the Milky Way, being south of Orion's Belt in the constellation of Orion. It is one of the brightest nebulae and is visible to the naked eye in the night sky. It is 1,344 ± 20 light-years (412.1 ± 6.1 pc) away and is the closest region of massive star formation to Earth. The M42 nebula is estimated to be 24 light-years across. It has a mass of about 2,000 times that of the Sun. Older texts frequently refer to the Orion Nebula as the Great Nebula in Orion or the Great Orion Nebula.

Saiph Star in the constellation of Orion

Saiph, designation Kappa Orionis and 53 Orionis, is the sixth-brightest star in the constellation of Orion. Of the four bright stars that compose Orion's main quadrangle, it is the star at the south-eastern corner. A northern-hemisphere observer facing south would see it at the lower left of Orion, and a southern-hemisphere observer facing north would see it at the upper right. Parallax measurements yield an estimated distance of 650 light-years from the Sun, which is about the same as Betelgeuse. It is smaller, less luminous but hotter at its surface than Rigel with an apparent visual magnitude of 2.1. The luminosity of this star changes slightly, varying by 0.04 magnitudes.

Mintaka Binary star in the constellation Orion

Mintaka, designation Delta Orionis and 34 Orionis, is a multiple star system some 1,200 light-years from the Sun in the constellation of Orion. Together with Alnitak and Alnilam, the three stars form Orion's Belt, known by many names among ancient cultures. The star is located very close to the celestial equator. When Orion is near the meridian, Mintaka is the rightmost of the Belt's stars when viewed from the Northern Hemisphere facing south.

Alnilam Blue supergiant star in the constellation Orion

Alnilam, designation ε Orionis, and 46 Orionis, is a large, blue supergiant star some 2,000 light-years distant in the constellation of Orion. It is estimated to be 275,000 to 832,000 times as luminous as the Sun, and 40 to 44 times as massive.

Bellatrix Star in the constellation Orion

Bellatrix, with Bayer designation γ Orionis, is the third-brightest star in the constellation of Orion, positioned 5° west of the red supergiant Betelgeuse. With a slightly variable magnitude of around 1.6, it is about the 25th-brightest star in the night sky. Located 250 ± 10 light-years away from Earth, it is a blue giant star around 7.7 times as massive as the sun, with 5.75 times its diameter.

Horsehead Nebula Dark nebula in the constellation Orion

The Horsehead Nebula is a small dark nebula in the constellation Orion. The nebula is located just to the south of Alnitak, the easternmost star of Orion's Belt, and is part of the much larger Orion Molecular Cloud Complex. It appears within the southern region of the dense dust cloud known as Lynds 1630, along the edge of the much larger, active star-forming H II region called IC 434.

Alnitak Triple star system in the constellation Orion

Alnitak, designation ζ Orionis and 50 Orionis, is a triple star system in the constellation of Orion several hundred parsecs from the Sun. It is one of the three main stars of Orion's Belt along with Alnilam and Mintaka.

Asterism (astronomy) Pattern of stars recognized on Earths night sky

In observational astronomy, an asterism is a pattern or group of stars that can be seen in the night sky. Asterisms range from simple shapes of just a few stars to more complex collections of many stars covering large portions of the sky. The stars themselves may be bright naked-eye objects or fainter, even telescopic, but they are generally all of a similar brightness to each other. The larger brighter asterisms are useful for people who are familiarizing themselves with the night sky. For example, the asterism known as the Big Dipper comprises the seven brightest stars in the constellation Ursa Major. Another is the asterism of the Southern Cross, within the constellation of Crux.

Orions Belt Asterism of three stars in the constellation Orion

Orion's Belt or the Belt of Orion, also known as the Three Kings or Three Sisters, is an asterism in the constellation Orion. It consists of the three bright stars Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka.

Sh2-279 Emission nebula in the constellation Orion

Sh2-279 is an HII region and bright nebulae that includes a reflection nebula located in the constellation Orion. It is the northernmost part of the asterism known as Orion's Sword, lying 0.6° north of the Orion Nebula. The reflection nebula embedded in Sh2-279 is popularly known as the Running Man Nebula.

Tau Orionis is a solitary star in the constellation Orion. If an imaginary line is drawn north-west between the stars Rigel and Mintaka, Tau Orionis can be found roughly one-sixth of the way to Mintaka. It is visible to the naked eye with an apparent visual magnitude of 3.58. Based upon an annual parallax shift of 6.6 mas, it is located around 490 light years from the Sun.

Orions Sword

Orion's Sword is a compact asterism in the constellation Orion. It comprises three stars and M42, the Orion Nebula, which together are thought to resemble a sword or its scabbard. This group is south of the prominent asterism, Orion's Belt. Fables and old beliefs are in Europe dominated or widely influenced by those of the Greco-Roman narratives. Beyond Europe this grouping is quite widely referenced as a weapon just as the majority of cultures perceived Orion's standout asymmetrical "hourglass" of seven very bright stars as a human.

Gemini is one of the constellations of the zodiac and is located in the northern celestial hemisphere. It was one of the 48 constellations described by the 2nd century AD astronomer Ptolemy, and it remains one of the 88 modern constellations today. Its name is Latin for twins, and it is associated with the twins Castor and Pollux in Greek mythology. Its old astronomical symbol is (♊︎).

Orion OB1 Association

The Orion OB1 stellar association is a contingent group of several dozen hot giant stars of spectral types O and B. Associated are thousands of lower-mass stars, and a number of protostars. It is part of the larger Orion Molecular Cloud Complex. Owing to its relative closeness and complexity it is the most closely studied OB association.

Heiheionakeiki is a Polynesian constellation which mariners used to navigate to Tahiti. It contains the seven main stars of the western constellation Orion:


Sharpless 264, also known as the Lambda Orionis Ring, is a molecular cloud and H II region, which can be seen in the northern region of the Orion Molecular Cloud Complex (OMCC), in the constellation of Orion. The OMCC is one of the best-known star formation regions and the closest sector of the Milky Way to our Solar System where high-mass stars are born. The nebula is named after its main star, λ Orionis, a blue giant responsible for the ionization of the surrounding material. It is also sometimes called the Angelfish Nebula due to its resemblance as to its lighter areas to an angelfish. In the infrared its ionized boundaries are that which appears, instead.


Explanatory notes

  1. The determiner glyph for "constellation" or "star" in these lists is MUL (𒀯). See Babylonian star catalogues.


  1. Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Orion"  . Encyclopædia Britannica . 20 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 276.
  2. 1 2 Dolan, Chris. "Orion". Archived from the original on 2011-12-07. Retrieved 2011-11-28.
  3. Rappenglück, Michael (2001). "The Anthropoid in the Sky: Does a 32,000 Years Old Ivory Plate Show the Constellation Orion Combined with a Pregnancy Calendar". Symbols, Calendars and Orientations: Legacies of Astronomy in Culture. IXth Annual meeting of the European Society for Astronomy in Culture (SEAC). Uppsala Astronomical Observatory. pp. 51–55.
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  5. Whitehouse, David (January 21, 2003). "'Oldest star chart' found". BBC. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
  6. John H. Rogers, "Origins of the ancient constellations: I. The Mesopotamian traditions", Journal of the British Astronomical Association108 (1998) 9–28
  7. Babylonian Star-lore by Gavin White, Solaria Pubs, 2008, page 218ff & 170
  8. Wilkinson, Richard H. (2003). The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt. Thames & Hudson. pp. 127, 211
  9. Kurkjian, Vahan (1968). "History of Armenia". uchicago.edu. Michigan. 8.
  10. Peake's commentary on the Bible , 1962, page 260 section 221f.
  11. "Star Tales – Orion". www.ianridpath.com.
  12. Staal 1988, pp. 61–62.
  13. Metlitzki, Dorothee (1977). The Matter of Araby in Medieval England. United States: Yale University Press. p. 79. ISBN   0-300-11410-9.
  14. Kaler, James B., "SAIPH (Kappa Orionis)", Stars, University of Illinois, retrieved 2012-01-27
  15. 漢語大字典 Hànyǔ Dàzìdiǎn (in Chinese), 1992 (p.163). 湖北辭書出版社和四川辭書出版社 Húbĕi Cishu Chūbǎnshè and Sìchuān Cishu Chūbǎnshè, re-published in traditional character form by 建宏出版社 Jiànhóng Publ. in Taipei, Taiwan; ISBN   957-813-478-9
  16. Holay, P. V. (1998). "Vedic astronomers". Bulletin of the Astronomical Society of India. 26: 91–106. Bibcode:1998BASI...26...91H.
  17. Srinivasan, Sharada (1998). "Vedic astronomers". World Archaeology. 36: 432–50. Bibcode:1998BASI...26...91H. doi:10.1080/1468936042000282726821. S2CID   26503807.
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  19. Kelley, David H.; Milone, Eugene F.; Aveni, A.F. (2011). Exploring Ancient Skies: A Survey of Ancient and Cultural Astronomy. New York, New York: Springer. p. 344. ISBN   978-1-4419-7623-9.
  20. Toroczkai-Wigand Ede : Öreg csillagok ("Old stars"), Hungary (1915) reedited with Műszaki Könyvkiadó METRUM (1988).
  21. Schön, Ebbe. (2004). Asa-Tors hammare, Gudar och jättar i tro och tradition. Fält & Hässler, Värnamo. p. 228.
  22. Elo, Ismo. "Tähdet ja tähdistöt". Ursa.fi. Retrieved October 16, 2013.
  23. 1 2 Staal 1988, p. 63.
  24. Moser, Mary B.; Marlett, Stephen A. (2005). Comcáac quih yaza quih hant ihíip hac: Diccionario seri-español-inglés (PDF) (in Spanish and English). Hermosillo, Sonora and Mexico City: Universidad de Sonora and Plaza y Valdés Editores.
  25. 1 2 "Home – El Nuevo Día". Elnuevodia.com. Retrieved October 16, 2013.
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  27. Kim, Wook (2012-09-21). "Mountain to Moon: 10 Movie Studio Logos and the Stories Behind Them". Time.com . Retrieved 2015-09-22.
  28. "The Three Kings and the Cape Clouds: Two astronomical puzzles". psychohistorian.org.
  29. "Orion, Constellation Boundary". The Constellations. International Astronomical Union. Retrieved 22 March 2013.
  30. Russell, Henry Norris (1922). "The New International Symbols for the Constellations". Popular Astronomy. Vol. 30. pp. 469–71. Bibcode:1922PA.....30..469R.
  31. Ellyard, David; Tirion, Wil (2008) [1993]. The Southern Sky Guide (3rd ed.). Port Melbourne, Victoria: Cambridge University Press. p. 4. ISBN   978-0-521-71405-1.
  32. "A Beginner's Guide to the Heavens in the Southern Hemisphere". dibonsmith.com.
  33. "The Evening Sky Map Southern Hemisphere Edition". skymaps.com.
  34. 1 2 3 Staal 1988, p. 61.
  35. "Variable Star of the Month, Alpha Ori". Variable Star of the Season. American Association of Variable Star Observers. 2000. Archived from the original on January 22, 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-26.
  36. "Waiting for Betelgeuse: What's Up with the Tempestuous Star?". December 26, 2019.
  37. "Betelgeuse". Chris Dolan's Constellations. University of Wisconsin. 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-26.
  38. Prior, Ryan (26 December 2019). "A giant red star is acting weird and scientists think it may be about to explode". CNN.
  39. "Rigel". Jim Kaler's Stars. University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. 2009. Archived from the original on February 22, 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-26.
  40. "Bellatrix". Jim Kaler's Stars. University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. 2009. Archived from the original on February 22, 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-26.
  41. "Bellatrix". Chris Dolan's Constellations. University of Wisconsin. 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-26.
  42. "Alnitak". Stars.astro.illinois.edu. Retrieved 2012-05-16.
  43. "Alnilam". Jim Kaler's Stars. University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. 2009. Archived from the original on 2011-11-24. Retrieved 2011-11-28.
  44. "Mintaka". Jim Kaler's Stars. University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. 2009. Archived from the original on 2011-11-24. Retrieved 2011-11-28.
  45. Jenniskens, Peter (September 2012). "Mapping Meteoroid Orbits: New Meteor Showers Discovered". Sky & Telescope. p. 22.
  46. Wilkins, Jamie; Dunn, Robert (2006). 300 Astronomical Objects: A Visual Reference to the Universe (1st ed.). Buffalo, New York: Firefly Books. ISBN   978-1-55407-175-3.
  47. Levy 2005, pp. 99–100.
  48. Levy 2005, p. 107.
  49. "Precession". Myweb.tiscali.co.uk. Archived from the original on 2018-07-23. Retrieved 2012-05-16.
  50. Wilkins, Alasdair. "Earth may soon have a second sun". io9. Space Porn.