constellation of orion

You’re looking up at the stars on a clear winter’s night. Right above you, you see it- Orion! Below Orion’s belt you see a fuzzy area- it’s the Great Nebula of Orion! 

In this nebula is a bright star cluster known as the Trapezium, marked by four bright stars near the image center. The newly born stars in the Trapezium and surrounding regions show the Orion Nebula to be one of the most active areas of star formation to be found in our area of the Galaxy. 

Many of the stars in the featured image, taken in visible and near-infrared light, appear unusually red because they are seen through dust that scatters away much of their blue light.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, Hubble

3

ORION had no mother and was a gift to a peasant from Jupiter, Neptune and Mercury. He was a skilled blacksmith and was able to walk on water, and had greater strength than any other mortal. He walked to the coast of Sicily against the sea and built a temple to honor the gods there. 

He fell in love with Merope, daughter of Oenopion. Her father, the king, did not approve even after he rid their island of wild beasts. Orion acted out in anger and violence and her father did not approve of this conduct. As a consequence, he deprived Orion of his sight and cast him out to the sea shore. 

The blinded hero was guided to the abode of sun by Kedalion (one of Vulcan’s men) to regain his sight. 

Following this, he hunted with Diana, a virgin huntress, and it was said she was about to marry him. Her brother, Apollo did not approve. 

One day, observing Orion wading through the ocean with his head just above the water, Apollo pointed it out to Diana and challenged that she could not hit the black figure floating on the water. She accepted the challenge, and effortlessly made the shot, unknowingly killing Orion. 

The waves rolled his body onto shore, and with many tears she placed him among the stars. 

Orion is one of the mot well-known constellations in the sky. He is shown as a hunter attacking a bull with an upraised club. 

Horse Head IC434

Took this in Kessingland Suffolk on the 29/12/2016. I was very lazy in my set up and my polar alignment was pretty bad so only managed to salvage 42 subs of 75 secs. Canon 700D, Canon 400mm L, F6.3 ISO800, iOptron SkyTracker. 

If you can find Orion, you might be able to find the Winter Hexagon. The Winter Hexagon involves some of the brightest stars visible, together forming a large and easily found pattern in the winter sky of Earth’s northern hemisphere. The stars involved can usually be identified even in the bright night skies of a big city. The six stars that compose the Winter Hexagon are Aldebaran, Capella, Castor (and Pollux), Procyon, Rigel, and Sirius. Here, the band of our Milky Way Galaxy runs through the center of the Winter Hexagon, while the Pleiades open star cluster is visible just above. The Winter Hexagon asterism engulfs several constellations including much of the iconic steppingstone Orion.

Image Credit & Copyright: Jeff Dai (TWAN)

Has anyone ever noticed the Winter Hexagon? Send me a message, I’d love to hear about it!

8

Images of Hubble Ultra Deep Field (the farthest we’ve ever seen into the universe) and it’s close-ups.

Astronomers, in 1996, attempted something extraordinary. They pointed the Hubble Space Telescope into a part of the sky that seemed utterly empty, a patch devoid of any planets, stars and galaxies. This area was close to the Big Dipper, a very familiar constellation. The patch of sky was no bigger than a grain of sand held out at arms length. There was a real risk that the images returned would be as black as the space at which it was being pointed. Nevertheless, they opened the telescope and slowly, over the course of 10 full days, photons that had been travelling for over 13 billion years finally ended their journey on the detector of humanity’s most powerful telescope. When the telescope was finally closed, the light from over 3,000 galaxies had covered the detector, producing one of the most profound and humbling images in all of human history - every single spot, smear, and dot was an entire galaxy, each one containing hundreds of billions of stars. 

Later, in 2004, they did it again, this time pointing the telescope toward an area near the constellation Orion. They opened the shutter for over 11 days and 400 complete orbits around the Earth. Detectors with increased sensitivity and filters that allowed more light through than ever before allowed over 10,000 galaxies to appear in what became known as the Ultra Deep Field, an image that represented the farthest we’ve ever seen into the universe.The photons from these galaxies left when the universe was only 500 million years old, and 13 billion years later, they end their long journey as a small blip on a telescope’s CCD. 

There are over 100 billion galaxies in the universe. Simply saying that number doesn’t really mean much to us because it doesn’t provide any context. Our brains have no way to accurately put that in any meaningful perspective. When we look at this image, however, and think about the context of how it was made, and really understand what it means, we instantly gain the perspective and cannot help but be forever changed by it. We pointed the most powerful telescope ever built by human beings at absolutely nothing, for no other reason than because we were curious, and discovered that we occupy a very tiny place in the heavens.

“You cannot look up at the night sky on the Planet Earth and not wonder what it’s like to be up there amongst the stars. And I always look up at the moon and see it as the single most romantic place within the cosmos” - Tom Hanks

Image Credit & Copyright: Yuri Beletsky (Carnegie Las Campanas Observatory, TWAN)