Orion, giant son of Poseidon, the god of the sea, and Euryale, youngest daughter of Minos, the king of Crete, and Pasiphae, daughter of Helios, the Sun-god. Minos was the illegitimate son of Zeus with Europa, who was herself a grandchild of Poseidon and who later married Asterios, the then king of Crete who brought up Europa's sons by Zeus as his own so that eventually Minos inherited the throne. Orion spent seven years pursuing the Pleiades, beautiful daughters of Atlas and Pleione, intent on raping them until Zeus stepped in and saved them by transferring them to the sky. Orion became a great hunter and spent his time hunting animals with Artemis and Leto, and boasted that he would kill all the animals on Earth. This so infuriated Gaia that she sent a scorpion to sting him to death. At the request of Artemis and Leto, Zeus immortalised Orion in the sky where he continues to chase the Pleiades for eternity. He is accompanied by his hunting dogs, Canis Major and Minor, the former of which contains the brightest star in the sky, Sirius also known as the Dog Star, and by his quarry Lupus, the Hare, and Taurus, the Bull, whilst the great bear watches from a safe distance. The scorpion was also transferred to the sky in reward for his service to the animals where he continues to chase Orion, who sets as the scorpion rises.
The constellation is home to a great region of nebulosity with star-forming regions, the best known being M42, the Great Nebula of Orion, M43 and M78. Another part is emission nebula IC434 which contains the famous, dark Horsehead Nebula, B33. There are a number of interesting stars. The brightest star is Rigel (β) which is 40,000 times as bright as the Sun and 750 light years away. It has a companion separated by 15 minutes of arc which would be an easy object were it not for the brilliance of Rigel and is itself a close double. Other easily-separated multiple stars are σ, θ (the Trapezium which illuminates M42), and ι (Nair al Saif).
The picture above was taken at 21:41 on 23rd January 2009 using an Olympus C-5050 camera with a 16-second exposure at f/2.6 ISO400, and enhanced by increasing the gamma to 1.4 and increasing the contrast. Orion was low in the south-east over the local source of light pollution.
This picture was taken from a very dark site in the Cairngorm Mountains in Scotland. Even so I have had to take out some sky glow. To see the picture before the removal of the sky glow, move your mouse pointer over the picture.
The picture was taken with a Canon 1000D camera fitted with an 18mm lens, 30 seconds exposure at f/3.5, ISO 1600, on 12 October 2013 at 05:38 UT.
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