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Watching the Skies with Brad Klein | Feb. 19–25 : Rigel, Orion’s white supergiant

Watching the skies with Brad Klein

BETHLEHEM, Pa. — This month… it’s all about Orion. One of the most visible and easily identifiable constellations in the winter sky, Orion is on the rise in the Southeastern sky after sunset for the entire month of February, moving west as the evening goes on.

The two brightest stars in this prominent winter constellation are Betelgeuse and Rigel. And this week, our focus is on Rigel.

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Creative Commons
Rigel is the ‘white supergiant’ star at Orion’s ‘left knee’

In order to find this star, first look for Orion’s belt. Then look to the bottom right of the constellation. Rigel is considered Orion’s “left knee,” McGuire said.

Rigel is what’s known as a ‘white supergiant’ star. It’s one of the brightest stars in the night sky, as seen from Earth. The star itself is about 40,000 times brighter than our own sun. And its blue-white color contrasts with the red supergiant star, Betelgeuse, also in the constellation Orion.

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Brad Klein
WLVR’s Brad Klein (l) and Bethlehem’s "Backyard Astronomy Guy" Marty McGuire

Next week, Watching the Skies will take a look at the Orion Nebula. It’s not a star, but rather a collection of dust and gas. A place where new stars are born.