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Sunday, June 16, 2024

EarthSky Tonight, December 15: Bellatrix—Orion’s third brightest star—means Female Warrior

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The third-brightest star in Orion, Bellatrix, is often overlooked. Yet, Bellatrix is such a wonderful star.

According to Richard Hinckley Allen’s classic book Star Names: Their Lore and Meaning, the Latin name Bellatrix means Female Warrior, which some find odd since the original Arabic title translates as the Conqueror. But women understand. Bellatrix represents Orion’s left shoulder. Although it appears only as the 22nd brightest star in our heavens, in reality it is a hot, blue giant some 240 light-years away.

Total lunar eclipse on December 20 or 21, depending on time zone

Also, look for Saiph,  the right knee counterpart to Rigel, the left knee in Orion. The four stars, Betelgeuse, Rigel, Bellatrix and Saiph form the familiar rectangle of Orion. Saiph is a blazing hot supergiant star 720 light years away.

By the way, yesterday, we talked about Orion’s two brightest stars. Look back if you missed reading about them.

The constellation Orion takes center stage this month and rightly so. With an inordinate number of bright stars, it is one of the most prominent constellations in the sky. Look for Orion in the east-southeastern sky from around 7 to 8 p.m.

Written by Larry Sessions

Astronomy Picture of the Day from NASA/JPL

CHANDRA Photo Album

U.S. Naval Observator Astronomical Information center

Universe Today

StarDate Online

Sky and Telescope

National Geographic

Space Com

Simostronomy Blog

Amazing Space

The York County Astronomical Society

Scope City

James S McDonnell Planetarium

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