Double Stars of Orion

Orion is one of the most famous and easily recognised constellations in the night sky. It is also winter’s predominant evening vision which is why right now is a perfect time to scan some of its brightest stars hunting for doubles.

There are eight such doubles I’m going to give you to hunt down in this challenge. For ease of reference, I’ll list them numbered 1 to 8 which refers to the Orion diagram below.

  1. Meissa: Brightest star in the cluster at Orion’s ‘head’. A moderately easy split to begin with.
  2. 32 Orionis should be located with your finderscope and needs high power to split.
  3. 52 Orionis is sixth magnitude star also best located using your finderscope. The pair are very close together and will need high power to split them.
  4. Mintaka is the westernmost star in Orion’s belt and a relatively simple split with the smaller stars distinctly blue color.
  5. Eta Orionis is found along the right ‘leg’, down from Mintaka. These two stars are two arcminutes apart and make a good challenge for splitting.
  6. Alnitak is the easternmost star of Orion’s belt and is a difficult split.
  7. 42 Orionis is inside the nebula field and a really difficult split because the brightest star drowns out the dimmer.
  8. Rigel, the brightest an Orion, presents a doubles challenge because the smaller star is significantly dimmer than the primary.

The star field is reproduced below in inverted monochrome which you may find easier to use outside at your telescope. Click on the image for a printable, full screen version.