The Autumn Hunter

The harbinger of late autumn can be seen in the night sky from the northern hemisphere around 9 or 10 pm as we look southward.  Just as the harvest moon is followed by the hunter moon, following the autumn harvest is the rise of the great Hunter Orion, named by Greek mythology. Though this star group has other mythical origins and names from other cultures the Hunter image relates well to this time of year and the focus of life as the seasons turn. 

Historically, the harvest is completed by October’s end and hunting wild game follows as winter approaches.  The Hunter constellation, aka Orion, is located on the Celestial Equator and visible from both the northern and southern hemispheres.

The Hunter is  easily identified by the three bright stars evenly spaced and forming his belt.  This prominent belt displays the stars Alnilam, Mintaka and Alnitak. The brighter stars Betelgeuse marks his top left shoulder and Bellatrix his right shoulder.

Rigel forms the Hunter’s right knee and Saiph marks his left knee as we view him from his backside.

Orion, the Hunter, will be visible in the sky from November until February.  All of Orion’s stars, save one, are young blue giants or supergiants.  

Betelgeuse, the red giant is the exception.  Its reddish color appears distinct compared to the other stars in the constellation.

His bright belt not only locates him easily in the sky but is a wayshower to locate two other important stars when the Hunter has risen well above the horizon.  Follow the path of those three stars downward to find the star Sirius in Canis Major, the Dog Star. Follow the belt upward to the right to locate  Aldebaran, the eye of the Bull constellation.

Article By: Mary J. Kern

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