Space for the Earthbound - A Journey Through the Universe

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Orion (The Great Hunter)

Orion, the Hunter, is one of the largest and most easily identifiable constellations in the sky. Once you spot the three stars in Orion's belt, the rest of the constellation is easy to make out. Orion's belt is often referred to as the "Three Kings". The three stars that make up Orion's belt are, from left to right; Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka.

Rigel, the large blue-white supergiant at Orion's left knee, is the sixth brightest star in the sky. Betelgeuse, at Orion's right shoulder, is a variable red giant with a diameter larger than the orbit of Mars. Betelgeuse is one of the 20 brightest stars in the sky.

Orion was the son of Poseidon (King of the Sea) and the Gorgon Euryale. Orion, like most of Poseidon's children, was a man of massive proportions. Orion fell in love with Princess Merope of Chios, daughter of King Oenopion. Oenopion would not give his consent for a marriage between Orion and Merope, despite Orion clearing the island of wild beasts and presenting the spoils of the chase to Merope.

Orion attempted to gain possession of Merope by force, enraging Oenopion who, after getting Orion drunk, blinded him. He then cast Orion out on the seashore. Following the sound of the Cyclops' hammer, Orion reached Lemnos. There he met Hephaestus, the lame smith-god, who took pity on the blinded hunter and gave him one of his men, Cedalion, to take him to the abode of the sun.

With Cedalion guiding Orion from his shoulders, the two made their way to the east meeting Helios, the sun-god. Orion's sight was restored when the healing rays of the sun hit his eyes at dawn. With his vision back, Orion then traveled to Crete, where he hunted with the goddess Artemis and her mother Leto. Orion was a skilled and arrogant hunter. During the hunt with Artemis and Leto, Orion threatened to kill every beast on Earth.

Gaia (Mother Earth) was infuriated with Orion's threat and sent a giant scorpion to kill him. In one version of the story, Orion was stung and killed by the scorpion. Orion and Scorpius, the constellation of the scorpion, are at opposition in the sky. As Scorpius rises in the east, Orion escapes the horizon in the west. When Orion rises in the east, he is chasing Scorpius to the west. Never shall the two meet in the sky to do battle.

Orion hunts eternally in the night sky with his two dogs, the constellations Canis Major (Big Dog) and Canis Minor (Little Dog), at his heels.

The spectacular Horsehead Nebula is found within the constellation Orion.

Between October 20th and 22nd of each year the Orionid meteor shower peaks. In the Northern Hemisphere, the peak rate is 20 meteors per hour. Viewers in the Southern Hemisphere are treated to a peak rate of 40 meteors per hour.

Author Resource: Written by Starr Hendon



Starr Hendon said...
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Stacy Duff said...
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