The Giant’s Great Lights
Four of the 10 brightest stars hunt with Orion
The figure of Orion hulks over the western horizon at sunset, around 7:25 this week. The great hunter was a giant able to wade through the oceans and also the most handsome man ever. His constellation, perhaps the most recognized, is grand and beautiful, too. Rigel, Orion’s leg, is the seventh-brightest star in the heavens; Betelgeuse, the hunter’s right shoulder, is 10th brightest. Three brilliant stars, the String of Pearls, form his belt, while his distinct hourglass shape stands out among the heavens as the most human-like constellation.
Orion’s loves were many and his exploits with women even goddesses legendary; but he was most in his element while in the woods hunting with his two hounds.
Canis Major, the great dog, stands out low in the southwest, highlighted by the brightest star of all, Sirius, a diamond on its collar, according to legend. The little dog, Canis Minor, is higher in the sky and is punctuated by Procyon, the eighth-brightest star.
As winter fades and spring progresses, Orion and his dogs dip closer to the horizon until disappearing just before summer.
Within our own solar system, appearing high in the east at dusk, Venus shines far brighter than any star. Not so bright but still equal to any star, Saturn appears high in the west at sunset and remains visible until setting at 5:30am in the northwest. Jupiter rises in the southeast just before midnight, while Mars rises in the same spot around 5:30 trailed by Mercury, which you may glimpse just before sunrise at 7:05.
Illustration: © Copyright 1925 M.C. Escher/Cordon Art-Baarn-Holland; Graphics: © Copyright 2007 Pacific Publishers. Reprinted by permission from the Tidelog graphic almanac. Bound copies of the annual Tidelog for Chesapeake Bay are $14.95 ppd. from Pacific Publishers, Box 480, Bolinas, CA 94924. Phone 415-868-2909. Weather affects tides. This information is believed to be reliable but no guarantee of accuracy is made by Bay Weekly or Pacific Publishers. The actual layout of Tidelog differs from that used in Bay Weekly. Tidelog graphics are repositioned to reflect Bay Weekly’s distribution cycle.Tides are based on National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and are positioned to coincide with high and low tides of Tidelog.