Five thousand years ago, when the Egyptians
were building the pyramids, the Pole Star
was Thuban. A guiding point of light.
Just one point in Draco the Dragon.
Ah, fallen and still there. I know.
Sirius is looking straight up at Orion,
wondering why he’s not in the hunt.
He wants to run the ice and snow.
He wants to please the heroic hunter,
and leave this underworld above the Earth.
Orion’s belt is three sparkling blue-white stars.
I still can’t see the constellating images
of the ancients, but for that belt.
His shield a vague curve, his knee,
Rigel, blue supergiant anonymously leading his lunge.
Orion’s two brightest stars – Betelgeuse and Rigel – are about at an equal distance above and below Orion’s Belt. Betelgeuse achieved popular fame in the misspelled Beetlejuice film character, but Rigel is pretty much unknown.
So, here’s to Rigel, who despite being 775 light-years away (which none of us can really grasp) shines very brightly. What a star you must be! If you were as close as our sun, you would outshine it by 40,000 times!
Rigel is blue-white because of its surface temperature. Rigel is hot (over 10,000 K) and still a youthful star. The more famous Betelgeuse is a red star – “cool” (only 2,000 to 3,500 Kelvin) and already in his autumn years.
I suppose I could walk the galaxy.
No hunter of animals, but a seeker,
a watcher of the darkening winter sky.
There! Look to the southeast after sunset.
Do you see me rising up to you?
we see Orion the Hunter with two
bright stars – Rigel on his left foot,
Betelgeuse on his right shoulder.
Blue-white and red supergiants 800 light-years away.
Three Kings we can follow into winter.