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Orion, The Hunter Constellation

Orion (Pronounciation:Ore-i-on, Abbrev:Ori, Latin:Orionis) is a constellation, one of 88 constellations that the night sky is divided into. The sky is not divided up equally between the constellations. Orion takes up 594.12 sq. degrees of the night sky which equates to 1.44% of the night sky. The constellation gets its name as it name means The Hunter . The constellation is one of the original constellations that was devised by the Ancient Greco-Egyptian astronomer Ptolemy who lived between 90 A.D. and 168 A.D.

Orion is not a member of the Zodiac group of twelve constellations that appear when the Sun sets. Orion is an equatorial constellation that can be seen by countries nearest the Equator.

The brightest star in Orion is Rigel. There are 19 Extrasolar Planets (Exoplanets) in this constellation that are detailed on this site. There is a dedicated page for exoplanets in Orion. The current largest star so far identified in the constellation of Orion is Betelgeuse. For a list of named stars, that is stars that don't start HD or HIP, please visit Orion Star List Page.

Orion Star and Deep Space Object Count

The number of stars that have been catalogued as part of the Hipparcos Star Catalogue from Orion is 1952. The number of stars that are of magnitude 6.0 or lower in the constellation is 128. The number of stars in the constellation that make up the outline is 20.

There are 3 deep space objects that were identified by Charles Messier in this constellation. There are 1 non-Messier deep space objects that are covered on this site and the list is below.

Stars of Interest

The nearest star to Earth is Gliese 205 which is roughly about 18.45 Light Years from the Earth. The nearest star to the Earth with an exoplanet is HIP 22627 which is about 40.08 Light Years. The furthest star that can be located in the constellation is HIP 27033 which is located about 326163.3 Light Years away from the Sun. The furthest figure is derived from either the 1997 or 2007 Hipparcos star catalogue parallax figure and it has been known to produce distances that are wrong.

The dimmest star that can be seen in Orion with the naked eye is HD 44497. The dim star has an apparent magnitude of 6. The dimmest star that a person is able to see with their naked eye is 6.0 magnitude based on the table in the reference. Ref: University of Michigan

The caveat of these stars are that they are catalogued on this site. If you know of a star that is nearer or further then do let me know in the comments and I'll add it to the site. The stars mentioned are from the Hipparcos catalogue or have been added because of their special status.

Legend of the Constellation

Orion was a strong hunter who attracted the eyes of many women and goddesses. This caused a lot of jealousy. He was created for a poor shepherd when he looked after Zeus one night. The goddess Artemis was infatuated with the hunter which made Apollo angry. He sent Scorpius to kill Orion. The scorpion scarpered and Orion followed. Apollo tricked Artemis into killing Orion with her bow. Apollo put him along with his dog Sirius into the sky. The Pleiades are said to be seven daughters of Atlas, the Titan. When Orion started his infatuation for them, Zeus turned them first into doves then stars to keep Atlas company.

Stars of Interest

Orion thanks to the three stars that make up the belt is one of the most easiest constellations to identify in the night sky. If you are in the northern hemisphere, you just need to look in a southerly direction to spot the constellation.


Betelgeuse is the star that is most likely to turn into supernova soon. However given that we're so far away from the star, it will not affect life on Earth. It will also not happen for thousands of years but when it does, it will be relatively near compared to other explosions.

Belt of Orion

The belt makes Orion one of the most easy constellations to spot in the night sky due to the alignment of the three stars, Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka. Once you have located the belt, working out the other stars should be easy.

Deep Space Objects

Horsehead Nebula

The constellation contains two of the most famous nebulas, the Horsehead Nebula, to the "south" of Alnitak, so called because at the centre is a dark spot in the shape of a Horses head. The other being the Great Orion Nebula, a beautiful looking nebula.

There are no major meteor showers that radiate from within this constellation.

Orion Facts

Is a Zodiac Sign No
Largest StarBetelgeuse
Brightest StarRigel
Area594.12 sq. deg.
Percentage of Night Sky1.44%
Size Position26th
Hemisphere Equatorial
Site Exoplanet Count19
Meteor Shower Count13
Nearest StarGliese 205
Nearest Star with Exoplanet(s)HIP 22627
Dimmest StarHD 44497
Furthest StarHIP 27033
Bright Star Count128
Hipparcos Star Count1952
Main Star Count20
Messier Deep Space Object Count3
*Non-Messier Deep Space Object Count1
Bordering / Neighbouring / Surrounding ConstellationsTaurus

*Note: The number of Non-Messier Deep Space Object Count relates to how many are covered on this site not how many there are.

Orion Constellation Map

Orion Constellation Star Map

The map was generated using Night Vision, an awesome free application by Brian Simpson.

List of Deep Space Objects (Galaxies, Nebulas, Supernovas, etc) in Orion

NameTypeDistanceDeclinationRight Ascension
De Mairan's Nebula (M43, NGC1982)Emission/Reflection Nebula1600-05:1605h 35m 6
Flame Nebula (NGC2024)Emission Nebula1350 LY-1d 51` 0.005h 41m 54s
Horsehead Nebula (NGC2023)Dark Nebula1.500-02:27:3005h 40m 59m 0s
Messier 78 (NGC2068)Reflection Nebula1600+00:0305h 46m 7
The Great Orion Nebula (M42, NGC1976)Emission/Reflection Nebula1.324-1.364 kilo-05:2705h 35m 4

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