I greet the arrival of my old friend Orion in late October with mixed emotions. Seeing the great hunter approaching confirms that fall has arrived, the days are getting shorter, the nights longer and colder, and the trees are losing their leaves. Still, its good to see him again.
The constellation Orion is a winter constellation here in North America. In mid-October I can just make him out coming over the Eastern horizon around ten-o'clock at night. By mid-December he is well established high in the Eastern sky by ten. In mid-January he is directly over head at ten.
Besides being the harbinger of fall and winter, Orion's familiarity and regularity does bring a certain degree of comfort. The reddish star Betelgeuse, the three starts (sometimes called the three Kings) of his belt, and the stars and nebula that form his sward makes Orion one of the most interesting, recognizable and beautiful constellations of the winter sky.
Orion brought a travailing companion with him this year. The red planet Mars passed through the constellation Gemini into the constellation Orion this winter.
I think of Orion as being an old familiar friend. He will be visible from my balcony for another couple of months before his annual visit is over. I will miss him when he's gone but I will gladly welcome the greening of the trees and the long warm days of summer.
All other pictures are my own work.
The information ref. Mars being it's brightest was incorrect and was based on misinformation. Mars got the closest to earth, and was at its brightest, on August 27, 2003; it will not happen again until year 2287. See: Closest_approaches.