Orion, the Hunter, is perhaps the most recognized constellation of the winter sky. It is easy to find because of its bright, colorful stars and amazing symmetry.
Look first for the Belt of Orion, the unlikely alignment of triplets named Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka. Find bright Betelgeuse and Rigel and notice how they mirror each other across the belt. Find another mirroring pair, Saiph and Bellatrix, equal in brightness.
Betelgeuse stands out among all these stars because of its deep red color. It is one of the closest red supergiants to earth and some day will supernova. But at 640 light years away, we are safe.
Within Orion are DSOs (deep space objects) that are immensely popular among stargazers: the Orion Nebula, a stunning star forming cloud, and the unique Horsehead Nebula.
Viewing Orion, the Hunter
Early December to mid-March
To start, face S and look from E to W until you find the three bright stars of the Belt of Orion with Betelgeuse above and Rigel below.
Use the map above to find the main stars of Orion. Try drawing the constellation with stars, constellation lines and labels.
With binoculars many more stars will be visible. The Orion Nebula is also visible. See the link below. Take time to explore.
The Orion Nebula is a show-stopper. The Horsehead Nebula is exotic but challenging. See the links below.