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Can You See Orion?

The interactive movie below shows you what the constellation Orion might look like.

You can adjust the darkness of the sky by moving the top slider back and forth. Move it to the right (towards the tent) to see Orion in a dark sky, the way it might look if you were out camping far away from any lights. Move the slider to the left (towards the streetlight) to see how Orion might look from a city where there are many lights around. "Magnitude" is a word astronomers use to describe how bright stars are. Stars with a magnitude that is low, like 1 or 2, are quite bright. Stars with higher number magnitudes, like 4 or 5, are not as bright. The least bright stars that most people can see without a telescope are around magnitude 6. The slider shows the "magnitude limit" of the least bright stars you could see with different amounts of light around.

The bottom slider, on top of the spinning globe, lets you change where you are on Earth. Move it up and down to see how Orion might look from different places on Earth.

If you can't see the movie below, or it doesn't seem to be working right, you may need to get the latest Flash player plugin for your computer.

Last modified September 1, 2010 by Randy Russell.

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The Summer 2010 issue of The Earth Scientist, available in our online store, includes articles on rivers and snow, classroom planetariums, satellites and oceanography, hands-on astronomy, and global warming.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF