Monday, June 16, 2008

The Belt Stars of the Heavens

Orderly objects attract all of us, especially if they are seen among the disorderly things. Such objects are also seen on the night sky. They are the ‘Belt Stars’ of the Orion constellation (The Belt of the Hunter). They are three in numbers, and are peculiarly arranged one after the other in a slanting manner as though they are in a line. They are Mintaka, Alnilam and Alnitaka. If they are joined by an imaginary line and that extended further leads us to another bright star Sirius in the South East of Orion (the Dog Star)! They are also seen enclosed in an (imaginary) square with bright stars in its corners such as Betelgeuse and Rigel. These all stars make up the Gemini zodiac (Mithuna raasi). They can be easily identified in winter as they are in the eastern sky at convenient hours. They were used in ancient times in navigation to find out the directions at seas.

From my childhood memories: I remember my mother saying to me, pointing to these three stars, that they are called ‘Water pots - on stand - stars’ (‘Thaunni chaal natchathiram’ in Tamil)!

Thanks to my mom who inspired me with astronomy by showing these wonder stars!

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