Orion’s Belt
Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka.

These three prominent stars in the central regions of the constellation of Orion align to form the 'belt' of the Hunter.
Genitive Orionis
Right Ascension 5h32 to 5h41
Declination -1.9° to -0.3°
Area (sq deg) 4
Distance ??? light years
??? parsecs
Brightest Star Alnilam
Optimum Visibility December


Diagram of Orion's Belt


Alnilam is the most massive and luminous of the three stars, so that despite its greater distance it still shines more brightly than its two companions. If the three stars were the same distance away, Alnilm would easily outshine the other Belt-stars. It is about 10,000 times more luminos than the Sun.




Map of Orion's Belt


The identification of these three stars as a belt is a very old one. The Arabic names of two of the stars reflect this: Mintaka means 'the belt' and Alnitak means 'the girdle'. (The name of the third star, Alnilam, means 'the string of pearls'.) It has been suggested that the three Belt-stars influenced the placing of the Pyramids at Giza, and it is certainly true that there is a remarkable correspondence of position between the Pyramids and the stars.