Orion the Hunter

Now that winter has almost arrived, there are different things to look at in the night sky. My favorite constellation Orion the Hunter is back! It's currently low in the east around 9 p.m., but by the end of this month it will rise at nightfall.

Orion is often referred to as The Lord of the Winter Sky because it's so bright and easily seen. Even if you live in a small city with lights, you should be able to see it.

Currently Orion is tipped on its side with his three-star belt pointing directly up in the sky. The three brightest stars are Betelgeuse which marks Orion's right shoulder (assuming he's facing you when you look up at him), Rigel is his left foot, and Bellatrix which marks his left shoulder. Altogether Orion contains 20 stars.

His right arm holds up his sword, and the left arm holds the lion's pelt, like a shield. The belt is his most distinctive feature because it's a line of three bright stars. Hanging from his belt is his sword which contains a great star forming region called the Orion Nebula. It's visible with the naked eye, but obviously spectacular with binoculars or a telescope.

There are several mythologies involving Orion. He is most notably a giant hunter or warrior facing a charging bull, Taurus, and followed by his dogs Canis Major and Canis Minor. In Greek mythology, Orion was the Son of the Sea God, Poseidon, who was famous for being handsome and strong. Orion was known as a great hunter.

This is a very ancient constellation that's positioned on the Celestial equator with his right arm brushing the Milky Way. It's also one of the few constellations mentioned in the Bible. Orion is referenced in the book of Job 9.9 and 38.31.

Meanwhile, the Geminid Meteor shower peaks on Dec. 14. Since the full moon is on the 19th, there won't be many visible.  The good thing is that this is a very active meteor shower with many bright meteors. Last week I told you that the moon will go away around 3 in the morning, so that's when you should get up if you want to go out to look at them, which I certainly am going to do.



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