Essay, Research Paper: Orion

Astronomy

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"Down fell the red skin of the lion Into the river at his feet. His mighty
club no longer beat The forehead of the bull; but he Reeled as of yore beside
the sea, When blinded by Oenopion He sought the blacksmith at his forge, And
climbing up the narrow gorge, Fixed his blank eyes upon the sun." ~The
"Occultation of Orion" by Mr. Longfellow~ This poem was written about
the Greek myth of Orion. The story says that Orion, the son of Neptune, was a
handsome giant and a mighty hunter. His father gave him the power of wading
through the depths of the sea, or, as others would say, walking on its surface.
Orion loved Merope, the daughter of Oenopion, king of Chios, and sought her in
marriage. He cleared the island of wild beasts, and brought the spoils of the
chase as presents to his beloved; but as Oenopion constantly deferred his
consent, Orion attempted to gain possession of the maiden by violence. Her
father, incensed at this conduct, having made Orion drunk, deprived him of his
sight and cast him out on the seashore. The blinded hero followed the sound, of
a Cyclops' hammer till he reached Lemnos, and came to the forge of
Vulcan(Hephaestus), who, taking pity on him, gave him Kedalion, one of his men
to be his guide to the abode of the sun. Placing Kedalion on his shoulders,
Orion proceeded to the east, and there meeting the sun-god(Helios) was restored
to sight by his beam. After this he dwelt as a hunter with Diana(Artemis), with
whom he was a favorite, and it was even said she was about to marry him. Her
brother was highly displeased and often chid with her, but for no purpose. One
day, observing Orion wading through the sea with his head just above the water,
Apollo pointed it out to his sister and maintained that she could not hit that
black thing on the sea. The archer-goddess discharged a shaft with fatal aim.
The waves rolled the dead body of Orion to the land, and bewailing her fatal
error with many tears, Diana placed him among the stars, where he appears as a
giant, with a girdle, sword, lion's skin, and club. Sirius, his dog, follows
him, and the Pleiads fly before him. Orion, the brightest constellation in the
sky, is easy to find if you look for the three bright stars that make up Orion's
belt. Once you have found this distinctive pattern, two other very bright stars
will help you define the rest of the constellation. The first star, Betelgeuse,
is located at Orion's right shoulder. The second, Rigel, is at his lower left.
Orion is the great hunter, aiming his arrow and holding his club over his head.
His sword hangs from his belt. In the area of this sword are found a number of
very exciting star formation regions, including the Great Nebula of Orion. The
nebula is visible with the unaided eye, as a smudge about halfway down his
sword. The Great Nebula of Orion(star M42) is one of the most photographed
objects in the sky. This area is a collection of gas and dust where stars are
being born. The central bright star that is illuminating the gaseous cloud is
actually four stars known as the Trapezium. The nebula itself is one of the
nearest star formations at only about 1,500 light years away. It has formed
stars recently, only 300,000 years ago. In Orion many of the stars have
different colors, colors tell us about a star's temperature, composition, age,
size, and distance from us. Red stars are generally older, cooler stars that
have used up much of their hydrogen fuel. Blue stars are generally younger and
hotter. Most of these stars are blue, with the exception of the very red star,
Betelgeuse. Betelgeuse is a red supergiant, Rigel is a blue supergiant. The red
streak in the sword area is the Orion Nebula. Orion is located in the celestial
equator and Orion's outstretched upper arm is located in the Milky Way. Orion is
followed by two hunting dogs at his right. One of these, Canis Major, contains
the brightest star in the sky. This star, Sirius, is located just where the
dog's neck meets his body. Sirius should help you find Orion, and Orion is also
shooting at Taurus the Bull.
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