DR. SKY BLOG

Look to Orion constellation for the amazing nebula

Nov 5, 2020, 4:15 AM

With the fall season now underway; and the Orionid meteor shower now over, it is a great time to explore the wonders of the constellation Orion as it rises in the east just after midnight.

Welcome, Orion!

This magical constellation is easy to see even from the bright lights of the city.

Orion the Hunter is made up of at least seven major bright stars and it also houses one of the most amazing objects in the sky – the great Orion Nebula.

Orion is one of the ancient constellations, making up 594 square degrees in the night sky. In this deep star field, we now know of some 10 stars that actually contain planets around them.

In Greek mythology, Orion is a part of the epic odyssey of Homer, as a hunter with a bronze club seeking out prey with his dog Sirius.

Orion finally met his fate, killed by a giant scorpion for claiming he would kill every beast on Earth.

Zeus finally proclaimed that Orion should be placed as a constellation in the night sky, as well as the scorpion, Scorpius.

Of the 88 constellations in the night sky, Orion comes in as the 26th largest.

Just in case you forgot, here is what the constellation of Orion looks like.

Moving toward the top left of Orion, we come to the bright orange super giant star Betelgeuse.

This amazing star is some 642 light years from Earth. The light you see left the star in 1377.

This star is one that may have already exploded into a great supernova. Only time will tell when we see this star brighten in a most dramatic way.

Betelgeuse is some 700 times the diameter of our sun, making it nearly 700 million miles in diameter.

On the lower right side of Orion, we come across another bright star known as Rigel.

Rigel is the seventh-brightest star in the night sky, located at distance of some 860 light years from your eye. The light we see tonight left the star in 1159 to make its way across the universe.

Rigel is a hot blue super giant star, with extreme temperature. The energy output is estimated to be at least 200,000 times that of our sun.

If Rigel were to be located within one parsec (32 light years) from the sun, it would shine with nearly half the luminosity of the full moon!

Now for the best: Located just below the main belt stars of Orion is the famous Orion Nebula.

You can see the Orion Nebula quite easy through a pair of binoculars. Here is what it looks like.

The Orion Nebula, or M42 by its Messier designation, is a stellar nursery located 1,340 light years from us.

It has a true diameter of about 24 light years and seeing it in a pair of binoculars or a small telescope is just amazing to view!

Telescopic viewers on a dark moon less night will marvel at the vast dust clouds and stars seen within it. All this is powered up by an interesting little cluster of four stars known as the Trapezium.

Here is the view of the Trapezium at its best.

Here is a small field star chart for observers with large telescopes for exploring the star field around the Trapezium.

You are looking at the inner workings of a star nursery, with stars actually being born out of the vast gas and dust required for stellar evolution.

Take time to enjoy this stellar treasure and share the view with someone.

Orion is a must-see constellation and one that will be in our Arizona skies, for many months to come!

To print your own monthly star chart, click here.

To view satellites/dates/times of passage, click here.

Listen to the Dr. Sky Show on KTAR News 92.3 FM every Saturday morning at 3 a.m.

Dr. Sky Blog

(Pixabay Photo)...
Steve Kates

July skies offer monsoon storms, super thunder moon and Pluto

With the summer monsoon well underway, the night skies of July offer up some interesting sights and events.
2 days ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Steve Kates

The summer solstice marks longest day of year

As you were sleeping Tuesday, the Earth moved to another key position around the sun, with the annual arrival of the summer solstice.
9 days ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Steve Kates

Arizona sky watchers will see alignment of 5 planets in early-morning skies

Our great Arizona skies offer up a rare celestial treat in one viewing - a lineup of five of the major planets in proper order from the sun.
16 days ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Steve Kates

An update on meteor showers expected to flash across the skies in June

With recent talk of a possible meteor shower and meteor storms, June is known to be the most intense period for meteors in the calendar year.
23 days ago
NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft, shown in this illustration, has been exploring our solar system sinc...
Steve Kates

Voyager 1 spacecraft sending strange signals back to Earth

Out in the deep dark recesses of the solar system, the Voyager spacecraft are still operating! Launched back in 1977, the twin spacecraft are headed in opposite directions in our solar system and are the farthest manmade objects in space.
30 days ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Steve Kates

Meteor showers to flash across Arizona skies before end of May

Meteor showers come and go and some are strong and some are weak. Here is a special Dr. Sky alert for a possible meteor storm well worth your time to look for.
1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Update your child’s vaccines before kindergarten

So, your little one starts kindergarten soon. How exciting! You still have a few months before the school year starts, so now’s the time to make sure students-to-be have the vaccines needed to stay safe as they head into a new chapter of life.
...
Day & Night Air

Tips to lower your energy bill in the Arizona heat

Does your summer electric bill make you groan? Are you looking for effective ways to reduce your bill?
...
Christina O’Haver

BE FAST to spot a stroke

Every 40 seconds—that’s how often someone has a stroke in the United States. It’s the fifth leading cause of death among Americans, with someone dying of a stroke every 3.5 minutes.
Look to Orion constellation for the amazing nebula