Sunday, January 9, 2011

Orion: Stars Under Construction and Otherwise

"Great Hunter Orion Now Looms Large in the Night Sky"
Joe Rao, Space.com (January 7, 2011)

"If you look about due south around 9 p.m. your local time this week, you may see a familiar sight dominating our winter skies: the Great Hunter or Celestial Warrior, Orion, the most brilliant of the constellations and visible from every inhabited part of the Earth.

"This Orion constellation sky map shows what the famed star pattern will look like in the winter skies of the Northern Hemisphere, weather permitting.

"As is also the case with the mighty Hercules, the figure of Orion has been associated in virtually all ancient cultures with great national heroes, warriors or demigods. Yet, in contrast to Hercules, who was credited with a detailed series of exploits, Orion seems to us a vague and shadowy figure...."

The article has a pretty good star chart of Orion and surrounding constellations.

There's also a story about Orion, Hera, and a scorpion assassin. In tales from ancient Greece, one gets the idea that the Olympus crowd didn't appreciate bragging. Which is another topic.

Where was the Lemming? Orion. Constellation. Stars. Right. Mr. Rao gets into discussions of some of the real estate out in that direction. Like Rigel and Betelgeuse: both bright stars in our sky, but quite different in their current status.

I've written about Betelgeuse before, and put links at the end of this post. Bottom line about Betelgeuse: there's a good chance that it's going to explode in the not-too-distant future: "only a few million years," according to the article. When it blows, we'll be at an almost ideal viewing distance.

Then there's the Great Orion Nebula, where new stars are forming from a huge and (comparatively) dense cloud of dust and gas. The nebula is about 30 light years across: which makes it a naked-eye object at a distance of around 1,600 light years.

The Lemming likes the constellation Orion: partly because of the sights off in that direction; partly because it's one of the easier constellations to pick out.

Somewhat-related posts:

2 comments:

Brigid said...

You're missing an article: "There's also story about Orion"

The Olympus crowd had *issues.*

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian, aka Aluwir, aka Norski said...

Brigid,

Got it. Thanks!

About the Olympus crowd: agreed.

There's a 'good enough for a story' idea was probably done to death - but might be due for another go - that Zeus and company weren't from around here: and had been cooped up in a ship a little to long by the time they arrived.

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