Orion, the Hunter

Orion,  the Hunter

Sirius, also known as the dog star, and the star of the  Dog Days of summer is back again.

You can find Sirius faithfully beside Orion, the Hunter.

The star of the winter constellations,  Orion is visible in the winter sky  from November to February.  Look for  Orion  to rise above the eastern horizon about  8-9 p.m., and move westward through the night.

Marking the right shoulder of Orion is the red giant star  Betelgeuse.  His left shoulder is the star Bellatrix.  The bright star Rigel is  on his leg. The  three stars that form Orion’s belt  are called  Alnilam, Mintaka and Alnitak.

Many  civilizations saw a figure  of a hunter/warrior  in this pattern of  stars. According to the Mythology Dictionary, Orion can be found in Hindu, Egyptian, Arab, Celtic, Norse, and Mexican mythology, as well as the  more familiar Greek and Roman myths.

In the Hindu Vedas and Upanishads, he is called Prajapati,  “lord of creatures” and protector of life

In ancient Egypt, he is the  god Osiris

Arab  astronomers called this figure Al Jabbar, the Giant

In Mexico, he is Atl, the Bowman

In Celtic mythology,  this constellation is known as Ceraumnos, and the figure is Mabon, deity of the winter sun

In Norse mythology, this figure is Odin himself

There are many stories about Orion in Greek and Roman mythology.  In one story, Orion  boasted that no creature could kill him. Hera sent a  giant scorpion to do battle with  the hunter. In the ensuing battle, Orion killed the scorpion, but he was also poisoned. As EarthSky explains, both fighters were placed far apart in the sky, as the constellations Orion and Scorpius. They are never seen at the same time.

In a different  story, Orion  pursued the seven sisters of the Pleiades, companions of  Artemis. When they begged the gods to save them, Zeus turned the sisters into a flock of doves, and set them in the sky.

There  is another story involving Orion and the goddess, Artemis. In this story, Apollo bets his sister that she couldn’t hit  a distant object in the sea. Artemis didn’t realize it was her lover, and shot Orion with an arrow. When she  found out what she had done, the heartbroken goddess asked to have Orion honored in the sky. Zeus placed  the hunter not too far from the Pleiades, where Orion still pursues them.


Cold, clear  winter nights are ideal  for  observing Orion, and other wonders in the night sky.  If a telescope is on your gift list,  Space.com has guidelines and suggestions.




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Filed under: seasons, weather

Tags: Orion, Pleiades, Scorpius, Sirius


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  • Lew Alcindor, the great NBA center, changed his name to Kareem Abdul Jabbar when he converted to Islam. Considering Al Jabbar means 'the giant', his choice was a slam dunk.

    BTW, Orion is one constellation I always recognize by its tripartite stellar belt.

    Excellent post.

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    Thank you, AW. Yes, he chose a perfect name. And, Orion does look almost like a basketball player....
    Thanks, again!

  • In reply to Weather Girl:

    Alcindor was a smart guy. I'm trying to figure out what Kareem means; best I could find was Cream, which put together with Jabaar would make sense.

  • In reply to jack:

    Greetings, Jack. I found this definition--

    Kareem \k(a)-reem\ as a boy's name is pronounced kah-REEM. It is of Arabic origin, and the meaning of Kareem is "generous, giving".
    The Koran lists generosity as one of the 99 qualities of God.

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    I agree, but I hadn't realized until now what a slam dunk it was! Thank you both!

  • I never realized how "interdenominational" Orion is -- and "he" is my favorite constellation. Many thanks.

  • In reply to Margaret H. Laing:

    Thanks for reading!

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