Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Belt of Pearls

In Roman mythology, Orion was a giant hunter. 
Blinded by a king, he regained his sight. 
After being killed either by a scorpion 
or an arrow wound, he ascended into the heavens.
His dog was Sirius.

The Belt: (l. to r.): Al-Nitak (Zeta Orionis); 
Al-Nilam (Epsilon Orionis); 
and Mintaka (Delta Orionis). 
Their Arabic meanings, respectively, are: 
The Belt, Belt of Pearls, and the Girdle.

They are referred to in the Book of Job, 
when God asks the long-suffering fellow: 
"Canst though bind the sweet influences of [the star cluster] Pleiades 
or loose the bands of Orion?"

None of these three stars are close to each other in space. 
They are whoppers, far bigger than our sun.

The "star" immediately beneath Al-Nitak 
(the left star on the belt) is not a star.

It is the Orion Nebula (NGC 1976),
24 light years across.
It's a "stellar nursery,"
Stars are born there.

Hatsya "the bright one of the sword" 
is the bright one of the sword.

The star at the right shoulder is Betelgeuse 
which in Arabic means "Orion's Armpit."
It's the eighth brightest star in the sky.

The left foot is Rigel,
the sixth-brightest.
Perhaps not surprisingly, 
it means "Left Foot" in Arabic.

As all good Star Trek fans know,
Rigel IV was the home planet of the infamous Boratis.
Women are traded for dilithium on Rigel XII.
Of course, this is the home of Mr. Flint on Rigel VII the year 2254.