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December 14, Focus on stars Betelgeuse and Rigel in Orion

Courtesy of EarthSky
A Clear Voice for Science
Visit EarthSky at
www.EarthSky.org [1]

[2] [3]Orion the Hunter is one of the most prominent constellations in all the heavens. You cannot fail to spot Orion’s Belt – three medium-bright stars in a short, straight row – if you look eastward in the evening. The magnificent Orion Nebula [4], or M42, is a fuzzy patch in Orion’s Sword.

Most constellations have only one bright star, but Orion has two: Rigel and Betelgeuse. Rigel [5] is Orion’s left foot. A blue-white supergiant and one of the most luminous stars known, it is nearly 800 light-years away. If it were as close as Sirius, the brightest star visible to the eye (and only about 8.6 light-years away), Rigel would shine much more brilliantly than Venus, our sky’s brightest planet.

Betelgeuse [6] – the other bright star in Orion – is the Hunter’s right shoulder. A red supergiant, Betelgeuse is no slouch of a star either. In fact, if Betelgeuse replaced the sun in our solar system, its outer layers would extend past Earth and Mars and to nearly the orbit of Jupiter.

[7]Written by Deborah Byrd [8]

Astronomy Picture of the Day from NASA/JPL [9]

CHANDRA Photo Album [10]

U.S. Naval Observator Astronomical Information cente [11]r

Universe Today [12]

StarDate Online [13]

Sky and Telescope [14]

National Geographic [15]

Space Com [16]

Simostronomy Blog [17]

Amazing Space [18]

The York County Astronomical Society [19]

Scope City [20]

James S McDonnell Planetarium [20]