Orion’s Belt — the belt of Orion the Hunter — is one of the most widely known parts of a constellation and one of the easier ones to spot in the sky.Orion himself, seen in the winter sky, is composed of 2 of the brightest stars in the sky and followed by his 2 constellation companions, Canis Major and Canis Minor. Located right below his “belt” is the Orion Nebula, a place where new stars are born!
It is a giant cloud of gas and dust and is somewhere around 1,300 light-years away from earth, however, it’s brightest stars can be seen through an amateur’s telescope. In 2012, a team of astronomers found evidence suggesting this nebula might have a black hole at its center.
As it was passed down to me, from a stargazing family, Orion’s tale was one of my favorites. Orion the Hunter was the son of Poseidon and was a very handsome and skilled hunter who was always followed by his two hunting dogs. He was very conceited and would often claim he could rid the entire world of all its beasts. Growing tired of his constant bragging, Gaia, Mother Earth, sent a giant scorpion to test him.
When the battle began, Orion quickly realized he was no match for the scorpion and jumped into the sea to flee. Apollo, God of the Sun, decided to end this nonsense. He coerced his sister, Artemis, Orion’s friend, to shoot him. He told her that the little black object swimming in the sea was a villain trying to escape, and he bet her that she wouldn’t be able to reach him with her arrow. Unable to turn down the chance to boast of her skills, Artemis shot Orion. When she swam out to claim her prize, she realized what she had done. She begged the gods to revive him, but they refused, so she put him in the sky where he would always near.
Following my youth, I realized with different cultures there are many different versions of whom Orion really was and how he came to live among the stars. In some, he was a rapist, and in others a hero and father. I’m sure my parents decided to find a cleaner version for me to hear as a child, but it’s still my favorite version. Are you familiar with a different Orion story? Tell me your version in the comments!
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