March 19, 2018


Photographer: Greg Parker
Summary Authors: Greg Parker; Jim Foster

Shown above is a panorama featuring Bellatrix, the third brightest star in the constellation of Orion. Though it's nowhere near as brilliant as its neighbors, Betelgeuse and Rigel, it's nonetheless the 27th brightest star in the night sky and is huge compared to our Sun -- approximately 8.5 times as massive and 6 times its radius. It's also one of the 58 selected stars used in the field of celestial navigation.

When looking at Orion, Bellatrix, some 240 light years away, is the bright star to the right of Betelgeuse. Occasionally referred to as the Amazon Star, it represents the hunter's left shoulder. The star to the lower left of Bellatrix is named 32 Orionis -- visible to the naked eye in dark skies. For observers in the Northern Hemisphere, Orion can now be seen in the southwestern sky after nightfall. Note that on the right-hand side of this image, the slightly fuzzy-looking objects are galaxies.