Sketching The Hunter

I went up the sky and tried to find Orion. It was about to hide behind the buildings. The sky was amazingly clear so I quickly drew this sketch.

Sketch of Constellation Orion by Me

Orion, often referred to as The Hunter, is a prominent constellation located on the celestial equator and visible throughout the world. It is one of the most conspicuous, and most recognizable constellations in the night sky. Its name refers to Orion, a hunter in Greek mythology.

Constellation Orion’s sketch by Johannes Hevelius. 

Some salient features of it are:

  • Abbreviation: Ori
  • Symbol: The Hunter
  • Area: 594 Square Degrees (26th largest constellation in the night sky)
  • Main stars: 7
  • Stars with planets: 7
  • Brightest star: Rigel (β Orionis, Apparent magnitude: 0.12)
  • Messier Objects: 3

Orion is visible at latitudes between +85° and −75° and it is best visible at 21:00 (9 p.m.) during the month of January.


Orion at the sky

For newbies, as well as expert Astronomers, Orion serves as an excellent navigational aid to locate many other nearby stars.By extending the line of the Belt southeastward, Sirius (α CMa) can be found; northwestward, Aldebaran (α Tau). A line eastward across the two shoulders indicates the direction of Procyon (α CMi). A line from Rigel through Betelgeuse points to Castor and Pollux (α Gem and β Gem). Additionally, Rigel is part of the Winter Circle. Sirius and Procyon, which may be located from Orion by tracing lines, also are points in both the Winter Triangle and the Circle

Orion offers excellent navigational aid to other stars.

The main stars of the Constellation Orion, which can be easily spotted are 7 in number.

Solar RadiApparent
(L Yrs)
MintakaNot known2.23 (3.2/3.3) / 6.85 / 14.0900
AlnitakNot known1.70/~4/4.21800

Orion as depicted in Urania’s Mirror, a set of constellation cards published in London c.1825.

Some interesting features of these stars are as follows:

  • Betelgeuse, known alternatively by its Bayer designation Alpha Orionis, is a massive redsupergiant star nearing the end of its life. When it explodes it will even be visible during the day. It is the second brightest star in Orion. It serves as the “right shoulder” of the hunter and is the twelfth brightest star in the night sky.
  • Rigel, which is also known as Beta Orionis, is the sixth brightest star in the night sky. It serves as the left foot of Orion, the hunter.
  • Bellatrix was designated Gamma Orionis by Johann Bayer, but is known colloquially as the “Amazon Star”. It is the twenty-second brightest star in the night sky. Bellatrix serves as Orion’s left shoulder.
  • Mintaka garnered the name Delta Orionis from Bayer, even though it is the faintest of the three stars in Orion’s Belt. Mintaka is the westernmost of the three stars of Orion’s Belt.
  • Alnilam was named Epsilon Orionis. Alnilam is losing mass quickly, a consequence of its size; it is approximately four million years old.
  • Alnitak was designated Zeta Orionis by Bayer, and is the easternmost star in Orion’s Belt. It is a triple star some 800 light years distant.
  • Saiph was designated Kappa Orionis by Bayer, and serves as Orion’s right foot. It is of a similar distance and size to Rigel. Its surface temperature is about 46,000°F or 26,000°C.

Drawing of Orion by Johann Bayer

Orion’s Belt or The Belt of Orion is an asterism in the constellation Orion. It consists of the three bright stars: ζ Ori (Alnitak), ε Ori (Alnilam), and δ Ori (Mintaka).

Alnitak is approximately 800 light years away from earth and  is 100,000 times more luminous than the Sun.

Alnilam is approximately 1340 light years away from Earth, shines with magnitude 1.70. It is 375,000 times more luminous than the Sun.

Mintaka is 915 light years away and shines with magnitude 2.21. It is 90,000 times more luminous than the Sun.

And NASA showed us the Belt in an overwhelmingly beautiful way.

Closeup of Orion’s Belt – Apod

Orion is full of Deep Sky Objects. The most famous being the Orion Nebula, which is a star formation site.

Messier 42 – The Orion Nebula, a spectacular Star Birth site in the Universe

Apart from Orion Nebula, a very famous dark cloud of gas called The Horsehead Nebula is also present in the Constellation Orion.

HorseHead Nebula

Besides these nebulae, surveying Orion with a small telescope will reveal a wealth of interesting deep-sky objects, including M43M78, as well as multiple stars including Iota Orionis and Sigma Orionis. A larger telescope may reveal objects such as Barnard’s Loop and the Flame Nebula (NGC 2024), as well as fainter and tighter multiple stars and nebulae.

Farthest left and bottom is the Trifid Nebula, move right from there and it is HorseHead nebula, Move to the extreme right and top is the M42, the Orion Nebula

All of these nebulae are part of the larger Orion Molecular Cloud Complex, which is located approximately 1,500 light-years away and is hundreds of light-years across. It is one of the most intense regions of stellar formation visible in our galaxy.

Orion will go away for months very soon, so if you can, try to find it and it looks wonderful, believe me.

Clear Skies.


  1. Once again. Well done. Very well written 😀
    Orion is, and will always remain my favorite constellation. I consider it the most mysterious of all.

    • Laura Casaletto on October 14, 2011 at 2:29 am
    • Reply

    I was looking at Orion over the weekend, out in the country, and trying to remember what other stars you could find using ‘him’ as a road map. And here it is! Thanks for filling me in.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.