A Tale of Two Stars: The Inside Story of Orion’s Belt
Standing upright and shining down upon Earth on these midwinter nights is the brightest and grandest of all the constellations: Orion, the Mighty Hunter.
Currently, Orion can be easily seen by skywatchers with clear weather as a star pattern standing high in the southern sky at around 8 p.m. local time.
Three bright stars in line in the middle of a bright rectangle decorate Orion’s belt, which points northward to the clusters of the Hyades and Pleiades of Taurus, and southward to the Dog Star, Sirius. Above and below the belt, we also find two immense stars, Rigel and Betelgeuse.
Rigel (the “Left Leg of the Giant”), is a blue-white supergiant star, one of the rarest breeds in our galaxy. But with their enormous brilliance — up to 100,000 times as bright as the sun — blue-white supergiants remain conspicuous over great distances.