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.

You might also be interested in:

Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

Magnitude - a measure of brightness

Astronomers use a special term to talk about the brightness of stars. The term is "magnitude". The magnitude scale was invented by the ancient Greeks around 150 B.C. The Greeks put the stars they could...more

Light Pollution

What is light pollution? Simply put, light pollution is the unwanted illumination of the night sky created by human activity. Light pollution is sometimes said to be an undesirable byproduct of our industrialized...more

Types of Light Pollution

Light pollution is the unwanted illumination of the night sky created by human activity. Light pollution is a broad term that refers to multiple problems, all of which are caused by inefficient, annoying,...more


Did you know that the Sun has spots? They are called sunspots. Other stars have spots too. They are called starspots. Both sunspots and starspots are cool spots (well, colder than the bright areas around...more

Northern Circumpolar Constellations

Because of the rotation of the Earth and its orbit around the Sun, we divide the stars and constellations into two groups. Some stars and constellations never rise nor set, and they are called circumpolar....more

Gamma Ray Bursts - The Most Powerful Objects in the Universe?

Satellites in the 1960's looked for a type of light called Gamma Rays. They found bursts of Gamma Rays coming from outer space! They can't hurt you. They are stopped by the Earth's atmosphere. We have...more

Galaxies - Star Cities

When we look up at the night sky, we notice that there are many stars in our sky. Stars must like to live together in star cities - galaxies. Our city of stars is called the Milky Way, and it is home to...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA