Next “Gateway to the Stars” – Orion!

Mike Murray
In my next monthly installment of “Gateway to the Stars” on Saturday, Feb. 5 (6:45pm), we finally get a chance to feature one of the most recognizable constellations in the entire sky – “Orion, the Hunter!”
Orion's distinctive pattern makes it the jewel constellation of the winter sky

Orion's distinctive pattern makes it the jewel constellation of the winter sky

Orion is considered by many to be their favorite constellation, mostly because it contains many bright stars in an easy-to-recognize pattern, especially with its three belt stars. But its notoriety comes from other factors as well. It may have been known as a “mighty hunter” to both the Greeks and Romans, but many other cultures had special interpretations for this group going back thousands of years.

Its bright reddish shoulder star is sometimes called “Beetlejuice” (like the movie), because it’s true name is “Betelgeuse” (an ancient Arabic word). And, Orion’s sword contains one of the most famous nebulas in the sky – The Orion Nebula, a massive cloud of dust and gas giving birth to hundreds of new stars.

The middle star in Orion's sword looks fuzzy, even to the naked eye.  In binoculars, you can already make it out as the famous "Orion Nebula"

The middle star in Orion's sword looks fuzzy, even to the naked eye. In binoculars, you can already make it out as the famous "Orion Nebula"

We’ll provide some special features of this constellation that you can’t get on any computer screen or movie, but we’ll also show how the pattern of Orion itself can make for one of the best guideposts to the Winter sky. Selected stars in this constellation can act like “pointers” to other major stars and deep sky wonders, many visible to the naked eye or binoculars.

Get ready for a myriad of astronomical treats! From Orion to the “Dog Star,” Taurus to “The Seven Sisters,” this is the season for celestial riches!

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