Admire the colorful Orion Nebula in the sky throughout March

Shining down on us all winter long, Orion is the brightest and grandest of all the constellations.

The most brilliant of all constellations, the Great Hunter or Celestial Warrior, dominates our wintry evening sky and is visible from every inhabited part of the world. This season, Orion is easily found high in the southern sky at nightfall, and doesn’t fully set until around 1:30 p.m. In March, the Hunter begins moving west. Three bright stars in a diagonal line down the center of a bright rectangle adorn Orion’s belt, pointing north to the bright orange star Aldebaran of Taurus and south to the Dog star Sirius.

In Orion we find two massive stars, Rigel and Betelgeuse, apparently at two completely different times in a star’s existence. In Rigel (the “giant’s left leg”) we find a star that appears to be reaching the prime of its life. Betelgeuse (“The Giant’s Armpit”), on the other hand, shines in a cool, dull shade of red; an irregularly pulsating supergiant star nearing the end of its life, and as such is spasmodically expanding and contracting.

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