|Meaning in English||the Great Hunter|
|Right ascension||5 h|
|Visible to latitude||Between 85° and -75°|
|On meridian||9 p.m., January 25|
594 sq. deg.
|Number of stars with|
apparent magnitude < 3
- Apparent magnitude
|Rigel (β Orionis)|
Orion, the Hunter, is a prominent constellation, perhaps the best-known in the sky. Its brilliant stars, on the celestial equator and visible throughout the world, make this constellation universally recognized.
Orion is very useful in finding other stars. By extending the line of the Belt southwestward, Sirius (α Canis Majoris) can be found; northeastward, Aldebaran, α Tauri. A line eastward across the two shoulders indicates the direction of Procyon, α Canis Minoris. A line from Rigel through Betelgeuse points to Castor and Pollux, α and β Geminorum.
Hanging from Orion's belt is his sword, consisting of the multiple stars θ1 and θ2 Orionis, called Trapezium and the nearby Orion Nebula (M42). This is a spectacular object that can clearly seen not to be a star with the naked eye; in binoculars, its swirling clouds of young stars, luminous gas, and dust can be seen.
Another famous nebula is IC 434, the Horsehead Nebula[?], near ζ Orionis. It contains a dark dust cloud whose shape gives the nebula its name.
Besides these nebulae, surveying Orion with a small telescope will reveal a wealth of interesting deep-sky objects.
Being such a brillant pattern of stars, Orion is recognized by many ancient civilizations, though with different images.
The ancient Sumerians saw this star pattern as a sheep. The name Betelgeuse literally means "the armpit"; in case of the Sumerians it meant "the armpit of the sheep".
The "belt and sword" of Orion are frequently referred to in ancient and modern literature, and even found recognition as the shoulder insignia of the 27th division of the United States Army during both World Wars, probably due to the fact that the division was commanded by General O'Ryan.
It is not very surprising to see such a prominent constellation to have more than one version of story around it in Greek mythology. In one version, Orion claims himself to be the greatest hunter in the world. This is heard by Hera, the wife of Zeus, and she decided to send a scorpion. after Orion. Orion is stung to death by the scorpion. Zeus felt sorry for Orion and put him onto the sky. The scorpion is also taken up to the sky, becoming the constellation Scorpius. It is an interesting fact that when one of the two constellations rises from the horizon, the other would have already set. So the two rival can never see each other again.
See also Orion (mythology).