Have you Met Orion in Part 1?
What is the Relationship of Orion and the Pleiades or 7 Sisters in Greek Mythology? Is it true that Betelgeuse could Supernova at any moment? What does the term Dogs Days of Summer mean and how is it tied to Sirius? Why do I only count 6 stars when I look at the Pleiades instead of 7?
Orion and the Pleiades or 7 Sisters: In another one of Orions great adventures we find him out hunting when he happens into a sunlit glade where he finds the daughters of Atlas – a Titan who held up the sky and Pleione, the guardian of sailing.
Disturbing the girls in play, the sisters quickly fled. Orion, enamored by their beauty chased the Pleiades or 7 sisters across the face of the planet. When Orion was finally closing in on his prey, Zeus or Jupiter to the Romans– the god of gods intervened and turned the sisters into a flock of doves where they flew into the heavens beyond the reach of their pursuer.
So if we turn to our image, we get to meet the cast of characters in our story. – Orion, Jupiter, and the Pleiades. What we are witnessing is Orion in pursuit of the Pleiades with Jupiter in-between.
Orion and Astronomy: Lets talk for a second about the 2 brightest stars in Orion: Rigel and Betelgeuse.
Rigel is blue supergiant star, the brightest star in the Constellation and the seventh brightest star in the heavens. It is almost twice as hot as our sun and 40,000 times brighter.
Betelgeuse is a red supergiant approaching the end of its life. Stars this massive do not go gently into the goodnight but erupt into one of the greatest fireworks display that the Universe bares witness – a Supernova. We know that Betelgeuse will supernova. It could be today or in a million years. We don’t know but when it does explode it will brighten for several weeks to months, maybe even as bright as a full moon and visible during the day.
There is one more point within Orion that I would like to touch upon which is the Orion Nebula. The Orion nebula is an enormous cloud of gas and dust. It is a Stellar Nursery producing stars as young as 1 million years old – New borns to the Universe. If you were to look at the Nebula with an amateur telescope you would notice 4 bright stars called the Trapezium.
Getting Sirius: No great hunter is complete without his dog, so over here to the left we see Sirius – the dog star and companion of Orion.
Has anybody ever heard the term “Dog days of Summer”?
Today we usually associate this as being a period of misery and distress in the summer between July and August but what this really means is that the Dog Star is rising with the Sun.
Sirius is the brightest star in the Night Sky and is part of a binary system meaning that there are 2 stars orbiting each other.
Sirius was an important star to the ancient Egyptians sometimes referred to the as the Nile Star or Star of Isis and its rising in the morning was tied to the flooding of the Nile River.
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Planet Jupiter: Jupiter is the second brightest planet in the nightsky but it is the largest planet in our Solar System more than 300 times the size of Earth. It is a gas giant. Some scientists believe it may be a failed a star. With several bands of color, Jupiter looks like a beautiful marble from Earth with its massive storm -Giant Red Spot when viewed by telescope. This “Red Spot” has been present ever since Galileo Galelile first pointed a telescope towards this planet in the 17th century.
Planets are what the Greeks referred to as wandering Stars meaning that they don’t stay fixed in their position in the nightsky. So as I was lucky to see the story of Orion and the Pleiades reenacted in the Sky, this is not a permanent view but one to be enjoyed for a short time.
Seven Sister or the Pleiades: is not a constellation but a star cluster. The stars in this cluster are about 100 million years old. Most modern people who gaze at this cluster see 6 prominent stars instead of 7. So why the designation as the Seven Sisters?
Mythology says that at one point in antiquity 7 stars were visible and over time one disappeared. There seems to be some evidence for this but many modern Astronomers disagree.
According to one Greek myth, upon the destruction of the great city of Troy, Electra, an ancestress of the city, was so saddened that she left her sisters and was transformed into a comet to be a sign of doom to come.
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