Orion (constellation)

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Orion constellation map
The sword is composed of the Orion nebula (M42), with the Trapezium open star cluster at its centre.

Orion is one of the largest constellations in the sky. It is supposed to look like the warrior Orion from Greek mythology. The constellation has other names in different cultures: it is mentioned under a Hebrew name in the Book of Job.

The constellation has a clear hour-glass shape with "Orion's Belt" in the centre. That part is made up of three bright stars (Alnitak, Alnilam, Mintaka) in line. The Orion constellation has 81 visible stars, including some of the brightest and most important stars in the night sky. Rigel is the brightest star in it, and Betelgeuse is a huge, rather unstable red giant.

The constellation includes a series of starburst nebulae where new stars are forming. The whole group of nebulae is known as the Orion complex. The complex is 1,500 to 1,600 light-years away, and hundreds of light-years across. It includes

Mythological legend[change | change source]

In Greek mythology, Orion was killed by his wife Artemis. She was tricked into thinking that Orion was a rock, so in the myth the Greek gods hung him in the night sky.