International Star Registry

All Constellations

Orion - Hunter

Betelgeuse is the super red giant star in Orion’s shoulder. Betelgeuse translates from Arabic “the armpit of the central one”. The magnitude is .9. Rigel, “the left leg”, is a blue white super giant star of .3 magnitude. Bellatrix, “the Amazon star”, is Orion’s other shoulder. It is yellow and is a 2 magnitude star. Delta, Epsilon and Zeta are three equally spaced bright stars forming the belt or girdle of Orion. Just below the belt of Orion, the Orion Nebula M-42 is visible with the naked eye. The spectacular Horsehead Nebula is here. Orion is best viewed from December to March.

The Latin poet Manilius, who wrote five books on astronomy, said of Orion:

“First after the Twins, see great Orion rise,

His arms extended stretch o’er half the skies

His stride as large, and with a steady pace

He marches on, and measures a vast space;

On each broad shoulder a bright star display’d.

And three obliquely grace his hanging blade.

In his vast head, immrs’d in boundless spheres,

Three stars, less bright, but yet as great, he bears,

But farther off removed, their splendour’s lost;

Thus grac’d and arm’d he leads the starry host.”

Whoever looks upon the constellation will never forget it. When Orion is on the meridian, it is visible to all the habitable world because the equinoctial passes along the middle of the Earth. Orion is shown on star maps as a hunter attacking a bull while bearing a sword in his belt, holding a huge club in his right hand and the skin of a lion in his left.

There’s a tight triangle of three small stars in Orion’s head, which forms a larger triangle with the two in his shoulders. In the middle of the constellation are three stars of the 2nd magnitude in Orion’s belt, forming a straight line about 3° in length from northwest to southeast. These three stars usually are distinguished as the “Three Sisters” because no others exactly resemble them in position or brightness. Sometimes they are called the Three Kings. Ancient husbandmen called them Jacob’s Rod or the Rake. In 1807, the University of Leipsic gave them the name Napoleon.

Their most common name is the Elland Yard from the fact that the line which unites the three stars in the belt measures just 3° in length, divided equally by the central star, like the feet on a yardstick. That makes it a standard for measuring the distance of stars from each other. A line through the three stars of the belt will point out Pleiades and Hyades on one side and Sirius, “The Dog Star,” on the other.

Orion was the son of Neptune and Queen Euryale, a famous Amazonian huntress. Having the disposition of his mother, he became the greatest hunter in the world, boasting that he could conquer any animal on Earth. To punish his vanity, a scorpion sprang out of the Earth and killed him with a bite to his foot. Diana requested that he be placed among the stars opposite the Scorpion which had caused his death.
Right Ascension 05:32
Diameter (°)17
Area (square °)594
Opposition Dec 15
Size Rank 26th
Brightness Rank 4th