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Orion, The Hunter Constellation Facts and Mythology

Orion Constellation Star Map

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. Orion is the 26th largest in terms of size in the night sky.

The constellation 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.

There are 18 stars that make up the main constellation. The hipparcos satellite scanned and detailed 1952 stars. There are 128 stars that can be seen with the naked eye in the constellation on a very clear night sky.

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 distance to Orion is not calculable because all the stars that make up the constellation are at various distances. The best answer for distance to Orion is to calculate the average distance of the stars.

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.

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.

The image at the top right of this page was generated using Night Vision, a free to use and download application by Brian Simspon.

Orion Star Facts

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.

Gliese 205, Nearest Star

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.

HIP 27033, Furthest Star

The furthest star that is located in the constellation is HIP 27033 and it is 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.

HD 44497, Dimmest Visible Star

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.

Betelgeuse

Betelgeuse is the star that is most likely to turn into supernova soon. However given that we are 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. It is one of the largest stars out there in the Milky Way.

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.

CVSO 30

The cryptically named star is one of the first stars to have an exoplanet imaged. CVSO 30 is located slight more north of the Belt of Orion but you won't be able to see with the naked eye as it is too far away.

Rigel

Rigel similar to the mans name of Nigel is a blue white star and one of the brightest in the night sky. Located to the east of the constellation is the Witch-Head Nebula, a nebula that resembles a head is lit up by the glow from the star. Although close to Rigel, the Witch-Head Nebula is located within the neighbouring Eridanus constellation.

Orion Mythology

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. Apollo 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.

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.

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.

Meteor Showers Radiating from Orion

There are 13 Meteor Showers that occur during the year within this constellation based on information gathered from Adam Mickiewicz University (Poland). The list below are major ones and which I have a date period for.

NameActivityPeak ActivityClosest Star
OrionidsOctober 15-29Oct. 21Xi Orionis

List of Main Stars in Orion

The following list contains the stars that make up the constellation. For a larger list of stars in the entire constellation area, please visit the For a list of named stars, that is stars that don't start HD or HIP, please visit Orion Star List page.

NameBayerDistance (Lt.Yr.)Right AscensionDeclinationSpectral TypeColour
BetelgeuseAlpha Orionis497.9605h 55m 10.29+07d 24` 25.3M2IbRed
RigelBeta Orionis862.8705h 14m 32.27-08d 12` 05.9B8IaBlue/White
RastabanBeta Draconis380.1417h 30m 25.98+52d 18` 04.9G2IIYellow
BellatrixGamma Orionis252.4505h 25m 07.87+06d 20` 59.0B2IIIBlue/White
MintakaDelta Orionis692.4905h 32m 00.40-00d 17` 56.7O9.5IIBlue
AlnilamEpsilon Orionis1976.7505h 36m 12.81-01d 12` 06.9B0IaBlue/White
AlnitakZeta Orionis736.2605h 40m 45.52-01d 56` 33.3O9.5Ib SBBlue
SaiphKappa Orionis647.1505h 47m 45.39-09d 40` 10.6B0.5IavarBlue/White
MeissaLambda Orionis1098.1905h 35m 08.28+09d 56` 03.0O...Blue
Mu OrionisMu Orionis154.9506h 02m 22.99+09d 38` 50.5Am...White
Nu OrionisNu Orionis516.0806h 07m 34.32+14d 46` 06.7B3IVBlue/White
Xi OrionisXi Orionis607.3806h 11m 56.40+14d 12` 31.7B3IVBlue/White
TabitPi3 Orionis26.3204h 49m 50.14+06d 57` 40.5F6VYellow/White
Pi4 OrionisPi4 Orionis1052.1404h 51m 12.37+05d 36` 18.4B2III SBBlue/White
Pi5 OrionisPi5 Orionis1342.2404h 54m 15.10+02d 26` 26.4B2III SBBlue/White
Pi1 OrionisPi1 Orionis116.3204h 54m 53.70+10d 09` 04.1A0VWhite
Pi6 OrionisPi6 Orionis945.4004h 58m 32.90+01d 42` 50.5K2IIvarOrange
Chi1 OrionisChi1 Orionis28.2605h 54m 23.08+20d 16` 35.1G0VYellow

Orion Facts


NameOrion
AbbreviationOri
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
Largest StarBetelgeuse
Brightest StarRigel
Dimmest StarHD 44497
Furthest StarHIP 27033
Bright Star Count128
Hipparcos Star Count1952
Main Star Count18
Messier Deep Space Object Count3
*Non-Messier Deep Space Object Count1
Bordering / Neighbouring / Surrounding ConstellationsTaurus
Eridanus
Lepus
Monoceros
Gemini

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



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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