Courtesy of EarthSky
A Clear Voice for Science
You’ll find Orion shining high in the south on January evenings. If you pick out any noticeable pattern in that part of the sky, it is probably Orion.
Stars in distinct constellations like Orion look connected, perhaps even gravitationally bound, but usually they aren’t. Certainly Orion’s stars aren’t bound to each other by anything but their general location near one another along a single line of sight from Earth. The stars of Orion just happen to make an easy visual pattern on our sky’s dome. The stars in Orion and most other constellations are generally located at vastly different distances from each other. For example, the two brightest stars in Orion are Betelgeuse and Rigel. Betelgeuse is estimated to be located 522 light-years away, while Rigel’s distance is 773 light-years.
Those prominent stars in Orion’s Belt, however, are somewhat related. They are all giant stars in a nearby spiral arm of our Milky Way galaxy. These stars’ names are Mintaka, Alnilam and Alnitak.
Written by Deborah ByrdPrint This Post