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 17 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.
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.
You can't just go to one location and arrive at the constellation because the constellation is made up of stars at different locations and different distances. The nearest main star in the constellation is at a distance of 26.32 light years and the furthest main star is a distance of 1,976.75 light years. The average distance to the main stars is 679.60 light years.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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 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.
Once you have spotted Orion, spotting other constellations should be easy. To the upper right of the constellation is Taurus, the bull. To the upper left of the constellation is the twins constellation of Gemini.
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.
Orion is best viewed in the winter months. The constellation can be seen as soon as it gets dark in the east as it rises over night and over successive months. In June, the only time you will be able to see it is early in the evening but as its summer, you will not be able to. April about 10pm is the last best time to be able to see the constellation ,
In January, it can be seen close to the horizon from about 7pm but rises in the sky over night and over successive months from easternly direction. Its journey will take it west where it will disappear in May or late in the night in April. The early after you can see it the better. In November, Orion will be viewable from about 10pm but you will need to wait later in the years for it to be viewable earlier.
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.
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 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.
|Name||Activity||Peak Activity||Closest Star|
|January Nu Orionids||28th January|
|Orionids||October 15-29||Oct. 21||Xi Orionis|
|Southern Chi Orionids||25th November|
|Northern Chi Orionids||10th December|
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.
|Name||Bayer||Distance (Lt.Yr.)||Right Ascension||Declination||Spectral Type||Colour|
|Betelgeuse||Alpha Orionis||497.96||05h 55m 10.29||+07d 24` 25.3||M2Ib||Red|
|Rigel||Beta Orionis||862.87||05h 14m 32.27||-08d 12` 05.9||B8Ia||Blue/White|
|Bellatrix||Gamma Orionis||252.45||05h 25m 07.87||+06d 20` 59.0||B2III||Blue/White|
|Mintaka||Delta Orionis||692.49||05h 32m 00.40||-00d 17` 56.7||O9.5II||Blue|
|Alnilam||Epsilon Orionis||1976.75||05h 36m 12.81||-01d 12` 06.9||B0Ia||Blue/White|
|Alnitak||Zeta Orionis||736.26||05h 40m 45.52||-01d 56` 33.3||O9.5Ib SB||Blue|
|Saiph||Kappa Orionis||647.15||05h 47m 45.39||-09d 40` 10.6||B0.5Iavar||Blue/White|
|Meissa||Lambda Orionis||1098.19||05h 35m 08.28||+09d 56` 03.0||O...||Blue|
|Mu Orionis||Mu Orionis||154.95||06h 02m 22.99||+09d 38` 50.5||Am...||White|
|Nu Orionis||Nu Orionis||516.08||06h 07m 34.32||+14d 46` 06.7||B3IV||Blue/White|
|Xi Orionis||Xi Orionis||607.38||06h 11m 56.40||+14d 12` 31.7||B3IV||Blue/White|
|Tabit||Pi3 Orionis||26.32||04h 49m 50.14||+06d 57` 40.5||F6V||Yellow/White|
|Pi4 Orionis||Pi4 Orionis||1052.14||04h 51m 12.37||+05d 36` 18.4||B2III SB||Blue/White|
|Pi5 Orionis||Pi5 Orionis||1342.24||04h 54m 15.10||+02d 26` 26.4||B2III SB||Blue/White|
|Pi1 Orionis||Pi1 Orionis||116.32||04h 54m 53.70||+10d 09` 04.1||A0V||White|
|Pi6 Orionis||Pi6 Orionis||945.40||04h 58m 32.90||+01d 42` 50.5||K2IIvar||Orange|
|Chi1 Orionis||Chi1 Orionis||28.26||05h 54m 23.08||+20d 16` 35.1||G0V||Yellow|
|Is a Zodiac Sign||No|
|Area||594.12 sq. deg.|
|Percentage of Night Sky||1.44%|
|Site Exoplanet Count||19|
|Meteor Shower Count||13|
|Nearest Star||Gliese 205|
|Nearest Star with Exoplanet(s)||HIP 22627|
|Dimmest Star||HD 44497|
|Furthest Star||HIP 27033|
|Bright Star Count||128|
|Hipparcos Star Count||1952|
|Main Star Count||17|
|Messier Deep Space Object Count||3|
|Bordering / Neighbouring / Surrounding Constellations||Taurus|
*Note: The number of Non-Messier Deep Space Object Count relates to how many are covered on this site not how many there are.
|De Mairan's Nebula (M43, NGC1982)||Emission/Reflection Nebula||1600||-05:16||05h 35m 6|
|Flame Nebula (NGC2024)||Emission Nebula||1350 LY||-1d 51` 0.0||05h 41m 54s|
|Horsehead Nebula (NGC2023)||Dark Nebula||1.500||-02:27:30||05h 40m 59m 0s|
|IC 404||Spiral Galaxy||09:45:17.50||5h 13h 19m 602|
|IC 434||Bright Emission Nebula||1,500 Ly||-2:30:00||5h 41h 00|
|Messier 78 (NGC2068)||Reflection Nebula||1600||+00:03||05h 46m 7|
|Monkey Head Nebula||HII Emission Nebula||6,400 LY||+20:30||06h 09m 7|
|NGC 1975||Lenticular Galaxy||-04 41 05||05 35 18m 1|
|NGC 1981||Open Cluster||1,300 LY||-04:25:30||05h 35h 09m 6|
|The Great Orion Nebula (M42, NGC1976)||Emission/Reflection Nebula||1.324-1.364 kilo||-05:27||05h 35m 4|
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