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Orion

The Hunter

Abbreviation: Ori
Genitive: Orionis

The constellation of Orion

Both the Babylonians and the Egyptians made constellations out of the stars of Orion but its name comes from Greek mythology. There are a number, sometimes contradictory, stories regarding him, but Orion is certainly associated with the scorpion against whom he waged a deadly battle. He is accompanied in the sky by his two hunting dogs, the greater dog and the lesser dog.

Notable Features

Designation Name Description
Orionids About half of the fast, sometimes bright October meteors leave trains. Like the η Aquariids in the constellation Aquarius, this shower is associated with comet 1P/Halley. The radiant is near the club of Orion so it is visible to observers in both hemispheres.
α Ori Betelgeuse This is a first magnitude star and the first star whose diameter was measured with an interferometer (1920).
β Ori Rigel Rigel is another first magnitude star and is actually the brightest one in this constellation.
γ Ori Bellatrix
δ Ori Mintaka Mintaka is the westernmost star in the belt.
ε Ori Alnilam Alnilam is the central star in the belt.
ζ Ori Alnitak Alnitak is the easternmost star in the belt.
κ Ori Saiph
λ Ori Meissa
M42 Great Orion Nebula This famed object lies just south of 'Orion's Belt'. It is one of the brightest nebulae in the sky and is visible to the naked eye. Star formation is taking place within it.
M43 This is part of the Great Orion Nebula, separated from it by a lane of dark dust.
M78 Optical aids are required to see this bright reflection nebula.
IC 434 This is another nebula that lies just off the belt of Orion and contains the famous Horsehead Nebula. The outline of a horse's head can be seen only in long exposure photographs, however.
NGC 1977 This reflection nebula is just northeast of the Great Orion Nebula.