Orion's belt: curiosities you should know

When we look up at the sky on a clear night, we can see thousands of stars. Many of them form groups that can be recognized by their shape. These groups of stars are called constellations and one of them is Orion's Belt.

What is Orion's Belt

The Belt of Orion is in a celestial constellation that is very easy to see from Earth. It is one of the largest and to be able to see it it must be at night, the sky must be clear and we must know where to locate it.

They say that the shape of the Orion Constellation resembles that of the warrior Orion, a famous character in Greek mythology. Hence the name of it.

What are its characteristics

The constellation is made up of several stars, nebulae, and areas where new stars are forming. It is located at a distance of more than 1500 light years from Earth.

This means that if we traveled at 300,000 kilometers per hour, it would take 1,500 years to get there. So today it is not possible to go to Orion by car, plane or rocket.

The constellation of Orion has 81 visible stars. Rigel is the brightest star in the constellation and the well-known Betelgeuse is a fairly unstable red giant star.

The so-called Belt of Orion is located in the center of the Orion Constellation and is formed by three very bright stars, Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka , positioned in a straight line.

How to find the Orion Belt constellation in the sky

To know its position in the sky at a certain time, you have to consult an astronomical map and take into account the orientation of the place from where you will try to find it.

Once you know the approximate area to look at, look for a very bright star with pink or reddish reflections: that is the red star Betelgeuse, also called Alpha Orionis.

Near Betelgeuse you will see a group of 3 stars that stand out from the others and are arranged in a straight line: you will have found Orion's Belt.

Curiosities and legends about Orion's Belt

The mythological legend

In Greek mythology, Orion was a great warrior who joined forces with Artemis, the beautiful goddess of the hunt. To imagine her beauty, suffice it to say that she was the twin sister of Apollo, the god of beauty.

As expected, Orion fell madly in love with her and to please her he had no better idea than to organize a hunt in which he killed a rather exaggerated number of animals. It is seen that Orion was not a man of many lights.

Gaia, the great goddess of the Earth, was offended by the cruelty of the hunt and sent a giant scorpion to kill Orion, punishing him for his sin against nature.

The goddess Artemis cried a lot for his death and created the constellation of Orion in memory of her.

We really like this version because it shows that the goddess Artemis was also in love with Orion.

Other different versions of the mythological legend

But there are other versions of the Orion legend:

One of them claims that Apollo, the twin brother of Artemis, was jealous of his sister's love for Orion and deceived her: he proposed a challenge to her to hit an almost invisible figure on the distant island with an arrow. of Ortigia.

Artemis was the goddess of the hunt, and she hit her mark on the first try. But the target was Orion, who died instantly.

And as in the previous case, it was Artemis who created Orion's Belt in the sky, in memory of her beloved.

If this legend is true, we must conclude that the god Apollo, in addition to being handsome, must have been quite a bad guy.

However, there are those who disagree and affirm that it was Artemis who killed Orion, because she had not liked the sacrifice of so many animals And that it was the god Zeus who was responsible for creating the constellation of Orion, in gratitude for the services rendered as a warrior.

We don't believe this latest version: as well as being unromantic, it's illogical. Let's keep in mind that Artemis was the goddess of the hunt: how could she be angry that Orion hunted animals?

Furthermore, Zeus was the supreme god, with powers over all other gods. If Zeus had wanted to prevent Orion's death, he would have.

Orion's Belt in the movies

Although there are several films in which Orion's Belt appears or is mentioned, one of the most beautiful and disturbing references occurs in the film Blade Runner, a 1982 masterpiece. It was directed by Ridley Scott and starred Harrison Ford and Rutger Hauer.

Harrison Ford plays a replicant hunter and Rutger Hauer is one of these beings. Replicants are artificially created people whose strength and intelligence far exceed that of naturally born human beings. The bad thing is that they have been created to be used as slaves and have an expiration date, like yogurt.

That is, they are programmed to die on a predetermined date, even if they are young and in perfect health. That's why a group of replicants rebels, looking for a way to prolong their lives.

In the climactic scene of the film, the replicant played by Rutger Hauer is dying in front of the replicant hunter, since he ends his pre-established period of life. He slowly tells the hunter about him the following phrases:

I've seen things you wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire beyond Orion. I've seen C-beams glow in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in the rain. It's time to die.”

This moment in the film is pure cinematographic poetry, even if it doesn't contain any verses.

The pyramids of Egypt and the Belt of Orion

There is a theory that there is a correlation between the position of the three pyramids of Gizeh, Khafre and Menkaure and Orion's Belt.

Among astronomers this theory has its detractors and its supporters. But since our astronomical capabilities are quite basic, we prefer not to comment. Prudence is the mother of science.

Has everything you've read about Orion's Belt interested you and would you like to see it with your own eyes? On the net you can find very precise references to be able to locate it. Choose a clear night with a new moon: with binoculars the vision will be surprisingly clear. And much more if you can borrow a good spyglass or a small telescope.

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