Night Sky Gaze

Orion: The Hunter of the Night Sky

The Orion Constellation is one of the brightest spectacles in the night sky. Lying along the celestial equator, Orion is often referred to as the Hunter and is closely related to Greek Mythology.

The stories that surround this legend stretch as far as the stars above—pun absolutely intended.

What is the Orion Constellation

A constellation is a group of stars that is named after the form that it most closely resembles. If you look closely, the shape of Orion looks very similar to a Hunter guarding against an attack with its weapon raised and ready to counter.

Orion is the 26th largest constellation and contains two of the brightest stars in the galaxy’s tapestry. Rigel and Betelgeuse are located at what looks to be Orion’s front foot and back shoulder.

Every good hunter is equipped with a belt so that their armor does not become a distraction. Orion the Hunter is no exception. The Orion Constellation contains one of the most well-known asterisms in the night sky—Orion’s Belt.

An asterism is another type of cluster of stars but is often much smaller than a constellation. Orion’s Belt is comprised of the stars Alnilam, Alnitak, and Mintaka and aline at the center of the constellation that shares its name.

The Many Myths of Orion the Hunter

Orion was a very handsome man within Greek mythology. He was the son of Poseidon and was known for wielding a very large and powerful bronze club. The myths of this hunter contain some very unfortunate tragedies.

According to one myth, Orion fell head over heels for the seven sisters, named Pleiades, the star cluster after the same name. As he started pursuing the sisters, Zeus plucked them from the earth and placed them in the sky. Orion can still be seen chasing them across the galaxy during a clear evening sky.

Another ancient myth tells the tale of how Orion’s affection for Merope, the daughter of King Oenopion, was not reciprocated. Rather than moving on, Orion took to the bottle and became drunk. In his stupor, he pursued Merope and became a bit too aggressive and assaulted her.

The king did not take to this too kindly, so he stabbed out Orion’s eyes and banished him from the land. However, Orion eventually discovered an oracle that gave instructions on how he could regain his sight.

Orion’s Expeditions in the Sky

The Orion Constellation can only be seen during the months of November and February. Depending on where you live you may need to bundle up if you want to take a glimpse while outside. It is located in the first quadrant of the Northern hemisphere and can best be seen at the latitudes of positive 85 degrees and minus 75 degrees.

Bryan Brammer