Orion The Hunter
Orion The Hunter is one of the most conspicuous and recognizable constellation of all, being visible in both hemispheres. Three stars – Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka – placed in an almost straight line define its belt, two stars – Betelgeuse and Bellatrix – mark its shoulders and the other two – Saiph and Rigel – its feet. One of the shoulder stars is Betelgeuse, the ninth-brightest star in the sky and second-brightest in the constellation of Orion. Betelgeuse is an extremely bright super giant star with a distinctly reddish hue, 50 times brighter than our Sun and 650 times bigger. But Rigel, the bluish star in Orion, is even brighter, being around 120,000 times as luminous as the Sun. Rigel is the brightest star in the constellation Orion and the seventh brightest star in the night sky.
Orion is really famous for the nebula that lies within, known as the Orion nebula. It is located bellow Orion’s Belt and represents Orion’s Sword. The nebula is so bright it can easily be seen with the naked eye, as a fuzzy patch of stars. In fact, this is a stellar nursery where young stars are born, while other are still in the forming process.
Right in the heart of the Orion Nebula lies an area of about one thousand new born stars, known as the Trapezium or Orion Trapezium Cluster. The stars have an age of about one million years, and the brightest four form the Trapezium asterism.
Our ancestors have seen Orion as a power figure of the sky. For the Babylonians, Orion was known as “The Heavenly Shepherd” or “True Shepherd of Anu”, and it was a sacred constellation, Anu being the chief god of Heavens.The Egyptians named the constellation “Sah”, otherwise known as the Egyptian god Osiris. It could be a coincidence that the Hopi word for star is “soh”, or maybe variants of the word have circled all across the globe.
In Muslim astronomy, Orion was known as Al-Jabbar, “the giant”. Although the term Orion itself refers to the Greek hunter, the names of stars of this constellation come from Arabic: Betelgeuse comes from Yad Al-Jauza, which means “the hand of al-Jauza”; Rigel is Rijlah, which means “leg”; Mintaka is Mintaqah, which means “region”; Al-Nilam comes from An-Nizam, which means “order” or “system”; Alnitak comes from An-nitak, which means “belt” or “band”; Saiph comes from Saif al-Jabbar, meaning “sword of the giant”. Only the star Bellatrix does not come from Arabic, but from Latin, and means “female warrior”.
The Maya used three stars in the constellation Orion: The great blue Rigel, Saiph and the belt star, Alnitak. These three stars form an equilateral triangle called “The Three Stones of the Hearth”. They represent the Maya hearth, made of three stones placed in a triangular pattern. The hearth was and is the very foundation of the Maya home. Directly in the center of the Three Stones of the Hearth, you will find the Orion nebula, M42. It acts as the flame called “Kak”.
Maybe the most known myth of Orion belongs to the Ancient Greeks, where the hunter was killed by the sting of Scorpius. In what has become an endless cosmic chase the scorpion pursues the hunter, as they run across the sky. They are opposite each other in the sky, so they do not appear at the same time. The hunter is never caught; the scorpion never catches its prey and cannot give the hunter another sting. The stinger remains poised never to strike.
My Fave Constellation – Orion