This is a nighttime view from the Cul-de-sac end of Dornton Road in South Croydon, showing the constellation of Orion rising halfway to the zenith in the southern skies. I took a photograph of this view during a sunset in the winter of 1983 with the sun peeping between the silhouetted trees centre-left of the picture.
There weren’t any digital cameras in those days and my camera didn’t have a flash attachment or any built in facility to take nighttime photos.
In order to paint a nighttime version of this scene, I stood at the end of the cul-de-sac after sunset one evening, with the footbridge in front of me, beyond which the railway lines used to pass to and fro in their passage from Sanderstead to Addiscombe, just staring intently at the horizon and the skies above; drinking in the colours; the pink and purplish backwash of distant city lights diffusing upwards into the deep indigo skies; the sodium glow of the nearby street lights and the black, silhouetted, skeletal outlines of the leafless trees with their spidery network of twigs reaching outwards from the tips of attenuated branches.
Then I went back home and using the Winter Sunset photo as a guide, set about sketching in and then painting the scene with acrylic watercolours and later, when I came to the point of including it in an album compilation of my photographed artwork, gave it the title: Orion Rising.
In actual fact, Orion was not even in view when I stood in Dornton Road staring so intensely upwards. Although I had often stood studying Orion on many occasions, so that I knew very roughly how it was aligned and which main stars it was composed of, because after staring up at every detail for a long time, I would then go home and look up the information for my observations in astronomical charts and catalogues. For reference whilst painting though, I still needed a reliable guide for the precise details.
So using a photographed colour-plate in an Astronomy book, I added the constellation in afterwards. Artistic licence; you have to work with what you’ve got and tweak it as necessary to achieve your desired result.
From where we view it on Earth, The Orion Constellation is a a line-of-sight alignment, with the stars actually spaced at unrelated distances to each other; some further from us and some closer than they appear. We are receiving a two-dimensional projection of a three-dimensional image.
At a distance of 642.5 light years from us, the large star at centre-top of the illustration, outlined in red is the red giant Betelguese [pronounced beetle juice]. It is situated on the left-hand side as we view it and forms the Eastern corner of the Constellation. Downwards from Betelguese at a forty-five degree slant towards the west [on the right] is Bellatrix, 244.6 light years away. Between the two at a distance of 1100 light years, [approx 350 parsecs] is Orion Lambda, otherwise known as Meissa, a name derived from the Arabic Al-Maisan [The Shining One], though it is actually a conglomeration of several stars when seen in magnification. Its Spectral type is listed as OB III.
The three stars at the midriff of the constellation, sloping at a forty-five degree angle to the collective alignment, are known as Orion’s Belt. It is composed of Alnitak in the eastern corner [on the left, as viewed from the northern hemisphere], 900 light years from Earth, Alnilam at the centre, 1000 light years distant, and Mintaka at the western end [to the right], 800 light years away.
Just beneath Alnitak is the Horsehead Nebula, 1,500 light years distant.
Further down at a distance of 1,344 lightyears [400 parsecs] from Earth is the Orion Nebula also known as M42 [Messier 42 or NGC 1976*]. Older texts refer to it as the Great Nebula or the Great Orion Nebula. It is located in the sword of Orion and appears to the naked eye as the slightly fuzzy-looking middle “star” in the sword.
At the western base of Orion [right-hand corner] is Rigel [Beta Orionis] 772.9 light years from Earth. It is the brightest star in Orion and is actually a triple star system with the primary [Rigel A] a blue-white supergiant around 130,000 times as luminous as our Sun.
And at the south-eastern corner [on the left] of Orion is Saiph at 650 light years [198 parsecs**] distant; visible at the lower left of Orion as seen by a northern-hemisphere observer facing south on Earth.
The information for this Orion project, such as precise distances in lightyears was obtained online and some also came from the knowledge I have gathered and memorized from books and documentaries over the years. Some data was also taken from textual information on a detailed Star-Chart I made on Dark-Blue card with rapidograph and white ink in 1983, filling the stars in with blobs of Acrylic paint, imparting a satin smooth glossy-finish.
Beneath the featured painting of Orion Rising, I have included a slide-show displayed as listed here:
Lower Orion and M42 +
Horsehead Nebula Barnard 33
M42 The Orion Nebula +
Barnard 33 The Horsehead Nebula
Orion Constellation Photo
Orion Constellation Stars
Star Chart of Orion
Horsehead Nebula Close-up
Orion Nebula by Hubble
Night Sky with Orion
Messier 43 De Mairan’s Nebula +
M42 M43 Orion Nebulas +
Dave Draper – 2014
Other Orion Constellation details:
NGC 1981 is an open cluster in Orion
NGC 1977 is an open cluster below NGC1981 in Orion
M42 = NGC 1976 below NGC 1977
M43 = NGC 1982 De Mairan’s Nebula
* NGC: New General Catalogue of Nebulae and Star Clusters
+ M: Messier. Messier objects are a set of astronomical objects first listed by French astronomer Charles Messier in 1771. Messier was a comet hunter and was frustrated by objects which resembled, but were not comets, so he compiled a list of them in collaboration with his assistant Pierre Méchain to avoid wasting time on them. The first edition covered 45 objects numbered M1 to M45.
The total list published by Messier finally contained 103 objects, but the list got extended by other astronomers, ending up with a total of 110 Stars; all of them within what is known as the local swimming hole in our section of the Milky Way Galaxy, that is out to a radius of 15,000 light-years, which is about as far as we can see before the spiral arms curve away out of sight in the galaxy’s 200/250 year revolution around its central axis.
** Parsec: approx. 3.26 lightyears
Lightyear: 6 trillion miles
* Lightyear: 6 trillion miles [the distance light travels in a year] Light travels at 186,000 miles per sec – 11,160 000 miles per min – 669,600 000 mph
Trillion: a thousand billion [10/12], [1,000,000,000,000] short scale: used by English-speaking countries and Arabic-speaking countries. Long scale more logically is 10/18; a million to the power of three [1,000,000,000,000,000,000].
Billion: a thousand million [10/9], [1,000,000,000] short scale: used by English-speaking countries and Arabic-speaking countries. Long scale for a billion is 10/12; a million to the power of two [1,000,000,000,000].
Dave Draper – 2014
Light Travels at around 160 704 000 00 miles per day.
It takes the light of the Sun [Sol] approximately 8 minutes to reach the Earth.
The sunlight reflected from the surface of Earth’s Moon [Luna] takes 1.26 seconds to reach the Earth.
Earth’s Diameter is approximately 8,000 miles
and the Circumference is approximately 24,000 miles.
Earth rotates on its axis: 1,000 mph.
Dave Draper – Updated 2015