Orion Constellation Lesson for Kids: Myths & Facts

Instructor: Suzanne Rose

Suzanne has taught all levels PK-graduate school and has a PhD in Instructional Systems Design. She currently teachers literacy courses to preservice and inservice teachers.

Have you ever wondered how the constellations were named? In this lesson, you'll learn about the stars that make up the constellation Orion and the story behind its name.

Orion, the Hunter

If you've ever looked up at the stars on a dark night, you're doing something that people have done for thousands of years. The names we use for the constellations came from the ancient Greeks. They looked into the night sky and saw pictures in the stars, which they gave names. These named patterns are our constellations.

One of the constellations named by the Greeks was Orion, ''the hunter.'' Pronounced, 'uh-RYE-un,' it's one of the brightest constellations and is easy to find in both the northern and southern hemispheres.

Stars in Orion

Each of the stars that makes up the constellation Orion has its own name, too. Rigel is the sixth brightest star in the sky. It's actually a group of three stars. In the constellation, Rigel is Orion's left foot. Betelgeuse is the second brightest star in Orion and the eighth brightest star in the sky. It's name sounds like 'beetle juice.' It's easy to spot because of its reddish color. Betelgeuse forms Orion's hand.


The third brightest star in Orion is called Bellatrix, which makes Orion's left shoulder. Hatsya forms the tip of Orion's sword. There are many other stars in Orion, including Saiph and Meissa.

Orion's Belt

One of the easiest ways to spot Orion is to look for Orion's belt, which is made of three stars: Alnitak, Alnilam, and Mintaka. This is such an easy-to-spot pattern that it's been given many names by different cultures.


The stars are called 'the three kings' in South Africa and 'the three Marys' in Spain.

Orion in Mythology

There are lots of stories about the hunter Orion and how he came to be in the sky. In Greek mythology, Orion was a hunter who had two large dogs. The dog constellations Canis Major and Canis Minor are near Orion in the sky like they are his hunting dogs. The rabbit constellation Lepus is nearby, and it looks like Orion and his dogs are chasing after the rabbit!

In most of Orion's myths, he falls in love with a beautiful woman. One story says he fell in love with Merope and another says he fell in love with seven sisters. In each story, Orion got himself in trouble and ended up in the sky instead of on Earth! A constellation called Pleiades (the seven sisters) is near Orion in the sky, and it looks like he's still chasing after them!

Orion the Hunter

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