Thursday, August 13, 2015

Orion's back!

Was outside very early Wednesday morning and saw the constellation Orion just about peeking over the southern horizon.

Not my picture, of course; this comes from the Hubble Space Telescope, courtesy of the University of Arizona Astronomy Department. When I saw Orion yesterday he was almost sideways on the horizon---relaxing in the glow of dawn.

Wikipedia tells us that during the summer Orion is in the northern hemisphere sky in the daylight hours, so we can't see him. I'm used to seeing him in the evenings during the winter, and since we got the dog (and I'm constantly being taken outside) I've seen him more in the last two winters than in my entire life prior to this. In any event, I didn't expect to see him in August, and I gather it's because the days are shortening up. The constellation must have been rising after sunup through July; now it's just before sunup.

I've liked Orion for a long time. I liked the Jethro Tull song first:

(Except for that one rhyme---"I'm high on" always made me cringe a little.)

I also liked the fact that Orion is very bright and very recognizable. When you grow up in a big city you don't see many constellations.

Orion the hunter had a pretty rough time of it in the myth. He did some terrible things, but so does absolutely everybody in Greek mythology. He paid some pretty heavy prices for his sins, and his destruction came at the hands of the gods, at least according to some stories; Apollo either tricked his sister Artemis into killing Orion, or Orion went crazy and threatened to kill every beast on earth, so Mother Earth sent a giant scorpion to take him out. However it happened, Orion got smited, and was placed among the stars.

When I see Orion I know that winter is on the way, so we're all about to get smited, too.

No comments: