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Is it too early to have favourites? February 11, 2011

Posted by Marie in Constellations, Look up, Stars.
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It may be early days, but I think I have discovered my favourite constellation already!

Big, beautiful, and instantly recognisable, Orion dominates the (clear!) night sky at this time of year.

I love it for many reasons.  One is that it was the first constellation I learned to recognise – it’s unmistakable.

Another is that the geek in me always thinks of Star Trek when I see it.  Why?  Well the bottom right star (if you’re looking directly at the constellation) is called Rigel, and planets of that name are referenced several times in Trek films and TV episodes.  (Sorry.)

Third reason – Betelgeuse, at the top left ‘shoulder’, was the first time I realised that not all stars are white.  Even to the naked eye, Betelgeuse is orangey-red.  Go on, go and have a look.  And it is e-nor-mous.

Look at this:

If  Betelgeuse was placed where our sun is, it would almost fill up to the edge of Saturn’s orbit.  Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars and Jupiter – gone!

I came home from work recently, in the rain, with a dark, cloud-filled sky.  No chance of looking up and seeing anything.  Later that evening, I went to get something from the car, and Orion literally took my breath away.  The clouds had cleared, and I hadn’t expected to see it there; it was just magnificent.  It’s around for a while longer, so go and admire!

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