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Established 16/3/2000

The glory of the stars

Orion - the Hunter

ORION THE HUNTER:

Orion is probably the single best known constellation throughout the world. Visible from both hemispheres, it contains seven bright stars, has a very distinctive human-like shape, and attracts amateur astronomers because of its famous nebulae.

In Ireland, Orion dominates the south of the sky during the Winter months.

The shoulder star of Betelgeuse is visibly orange-red in colour - because it is a red giant star. Rigel, at Orion's foot, is another very bright star. Beneath the belt is the Orion Nebula.

In ancient Ireland, the constellation was not known as Orion, but was probably the stellar representation of the great king, Nuadu of the Silver Hand.

The Double Cluster

THE DOUBLE CLUSTER:

This star cluster (ringed) is known as the double cluster for obvious reasons. It is located between the constellations of Perseus and Cassiopeia in the northern hemisphere of the sky, and is situated in a band of the milky way so there is a very high concentration of stars in this area. The distinctive W shape of the constellation Cassiopeia can be seen to the upper right.

Star Trails above the trees

WINTER STAR TRAILS:

This photograph shows the winter night sky over Ireland. The photo is a five-minute exposure taken on 400ASA film with an 18-35mm lens at f2.8. The picture shows Orion through the trees, with Taurus and the Pleiades taking centre stage. The two bright objects to the bottom right are Saturn on the left and the really bright Jupiter on the right. The picture was taken in November of 1999.

Taurus

TAURUS AND THE PLEIADES

Another familiar star shape of the Winter night sky is Taurus, the Bull. Situated above Orion's head, Taurus is conspicuous because of its distinctive resemblance to the bull. The v-shaped cluster called the Hyades marks the bull's head, with the bright red giant Aldebaran marking the eye, while the shoulder of this beast is marked by the fantastic and well-known star cluster called the Pleiades, or Seven Sisters. See also the legend of Dowth which mentions the bull constellation and the Pleiades.

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All information and photos, except where otherwise stated, copyright, © Anthony Murphy, 1999-2015
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