Once you spot Orion the Hunter, you are never going to miss it again in the night sky. In fact Orion is one of the oldest recognizable constellations – an ivory tablet some 32.500 years old may as well represent the constellation!

In a Telescope Observations Night first we are going to show you how to recognize the constellation and then dive you inside it – – through our big high tech telescopes. In less than an hour you’ll be able to observe 7 famous deep space objects including M42 The Great Orion Nebula. On top of that you’ll be able to capture images of the deep sky objects in real time directly on your mobile phone!

Orion is located on the celestial equator and is mostly visible in the evening sky from January to March, winter in the Northern Hemisphere, and summer in the Southern Hemisphere. It is featured in the myths of numerous ancient cultures around the world, many of which predate the Romans and the Greeks. The later imaged the giant Orion the Hunter in the night sky. With our naked eyes we can see many characteristics of this constellation.

Ο Ωρίωνας πάνω από τη Βοοημία. Credit: Vojtěch Bauer

Αλλά ας μη βιαζόμαστε, ας περιγράψουμε τον αστερισμό, πριν εμβαθύνουμε στα νεφελώματα.

Ο Ωρίωνας βρίσκεται στον ουράνιο ισημερινό και είναι κυρίως εμφανής στον νυχτερινό ουρανό από τον Ιανουάριο μέχρι τον Μάρτιο, τον χειμώνα για το βόρειο ημισφαίριο και το καλοκαίρι για το νότιο. Αναφορές του υπάρχουν σε πολλούς μύθους αρχαίων πολιτισμών από όλο τον κόσμο, πολλοί προγενέστεροι των Ρωμαίων και των αρχαίων Ελλήνων. Οι τελευταίοι παρουσιάζαν τον Ωρίωνα ως γιγάντιο κυνηγό. Με γυμνό μάτι μπορούμε να παρατηρήσουμε πολλά χαρακτηριστικά του αστερισμού, ακόμη και από σχετικά φωτεινά περιβάλλοντα.

The bright red supergiant star Betelgeuse serves as the “right shoulder” of the hunter Orion. It appears reddish even to the naked eye, being the eleventh brightest star in the night sky. The end of its life is expected to result in a supernova explosion that will be highly visible from Earth, possibly outshining the Earth’s moon and being visible during the day. This is most likely to occur within the next 100,000 years.

Rigel, the left foot of Orion the hunter, is a blue supergiant that is the sixth brightest star in the night sky.

Bellatrix marks Orion’s left shoulder and is the closest major star in Orion at only 244.6 light years.

Saiph serves as Orion’s right foot. It is of a similar distance to Rigel, but appears much fainter.

Meissa forms Orion’s head and is a multiple star approximately 1100 light years away.

Orion’s belt, an asterism within the constellation, consists of three bright stars Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka.

Orion’s sword is a compact asterism that comprises three stars which together are thought to resemble a sword. The brightest of the three is a multiple star system known as Hatsya “the bright one of the sword”.

Stretching north from Betelgeuse are the stars that make up Orion’s club.

West from Bellatrix lie six stars all designated Pi Orionis (Pi3 is Tabit), which make up Orion’s shield.

Seven nebulae in the Constellation of Orion as seen through Planetarium On The Go Telescopes

In terms of deep sky objects in Orion, the constellation has much to offer amateur observers due to the giant Orion Molecular Cloud Complex, a vast collection of different types of nebulae, star clusters, and star forming regions located around 1,600 light-years from Earth.

Observing Orion with our new technology telescopes, we can see in the eyepiece the colored images of 7 wonderful deep space objects in less than an hour.

At the middle of Orion’s sword lies the spectacular M42 Great Orion Nebula one of the brightest nebula in the sky, visible to the naked eye as a decidedly fuzzy region at the middle star of Orion’s sword. It is the closest region of massive star formation to Earth being approximately 1,340 light years away.

M43, known as De Mairan’s Nebula, is physically part of the Orion Nebula, separate from that main nebula by a dense lane of dust known as the northeast dark lane.

Sh2-279, is a HII region ( region of ionized atomic hydrogen) and bright nebulae that includes a reflection nebula located in the northernmost part of Orion’s sword. The reflection nebula embended in Sh2-279 is known as the Running Man Nebula.

At the easternmost part of Orion’s belt south of Alnitak is the bright emission nebula IC434, that includes the famous Horsehead Nebula. It is a dark dust cloud that is obscuring light coming from behind it, whose shape gives the nebula its name.

Close to the Horsehead Nebula the Flame Nebula (NGC 2024), an emission nebula is located. This emission nebula is ionized by high-energy ultraviolet photons emitted from the bright star Alnitak.

M78 is one of the brightest reflection nebula in the night sky, a cloud of interstellar dust which reflect light from nearby stars. The energy from the nearby stars is not enough to ionize the gas of the nebula to create an emission nebula, but it is enough to make dust visible.

NGC2174, known as the Monkey Head Nebula, is an emission nebula located about 6,400 light years from Earth.

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Christos Sakkas