SM Minute—Orion’s Belt

March 2, 2011
Orion, Canis Minor and Canis major

Image via Wikipedia

Scoutmaster Minute—Orion’s Belt

Winter, despite the cold, is an excellent time to observe the night sky.  If you want dry air and bright stars, you can go to the mountains, or you can go to the desert, or you can go outside in the wintertime.

The brightest stars in the Northern winter sky are in the Winter Triangle—Sirius (the Dog Star) in Canis Major, Procyon in Canis Minor, and Betelgeuse in Orion.  The constellation Orion and Orion’s Belt are easy to pick out in the Southern Sky this time of year.

The old Greek story of Orion is interesting.  Orion was a great hunter.  He was like many of us Scouts.  He would rather camp out and hike and fish than be stuck in town and he kept all sorts of handy gadgets hanging from his belt.  Well, there was this girl, Artemis, who drove the moon in a chariot across the sky each night.  One night she stopped the moon and went on a date with Orion and they had a great time.

Now, some of you older guys maybe have gone on some dates, and you know you better not get on the bad side of her dad.  Artemis’ dad was the great god Zeus, and he wasn’t happy about this.  Zeus sent a giant Scorpion to teach Orion a lesson.  That night, the Scorpion attacked Orion just as Artemis rose with the moon in the night sky.  When she saw the two fighting, she got mad and swung the both of them into opposite corners of the sky where they stay until this day.

This, of course, is just a story, and only one of many stories about the stars.  But remember when you look up at the Winter Triangle, the story of Orion the Hunter.

-JohnS.

(Adapted from the story as told by Minnesota astronomer Mike Lynch.  Check out Astronomy merit badge, tho I took it during the summer not the winter!)

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