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The Boston Globe


Secrets of Orion, the brightest constellation

If there is just one constellation that everyone ought to know, it is Orion, the brightest of the 88 constellations that wallpaper the sky. And now is the season when Orion stands highest in the evening.

Its brightest stars shine right through most city sky glow. These seven form a distinctive pattern like nothing else. Orion is supposed to be a hunter or warrior holding an upraised club in one hand and a shield (or lion skin) in the other. The club and shield are faint, waiting for your next excur­sion to a dark-sky location or for you to pick out, bit by bit, with binoculars. But Orion’s brightest stars by themselves suggest a human figure in an abstract way, with broad shoulders, wide-set feet, and a diagonal, three-star belt slung in the middle.

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