Orion is a big constellation with a big story. The story is so big, in fact, that it incorporates several other constellations. Some of them surround the hunter, while another is on the opposite side of the sky — a separation designed to keep two mortal enemies apart.
Orion is high in the south as night falls. The bright orange star Betelgeuse marks his shoulder, and blue-white Rigel is his foot. His three-star belt stands between them.
In mythology, Orion was one of the major celebrities of his day. He was strong, handsome, and a great hunter. Two of his hunting dogs follow him across the sky — Canis Major and Canis Minor. They’re pursuing Lepus, the rabbit, which bounds below Orion’s feet.
But Orion’s celebrity eventually went to his head, and it cost him his life.
There are different versions of his demise, but they end the same way. One says that Orion boasted that he could kill any animal on Earth. That didn’t sit well with the Earth goddess, who sent a giant scorpion after him — a scorpion that stung him to death. Another version of the story says he was pursuing the goddess Diana too vigorously. So her brother, Apollo, dispatched the scorpion to protect her. Either way, Orion met his fate through the scorpion’s sting.
The gods placed both of them in the stars — but halfway around the sky from each other. So Orion dominates the winter sky, while his mortal enemy, the scorpion, rules the nights of summer.
Script by Damond Benningfield