Backyard Observatory

The Constellation Orion Is About to Say Goodbye Until Next Winter

Orion the Hunter is one of the most recognizable constellations in the night sky. It ranks up there with Ursa Minor and Ursa Major. However, we only get to see it for a handful of months before the hunter and its famous belt get lost in the glare of the sun through the late spring and summer.

The familiar night-sky sight is announcing last call. It's sitting low in the western sky, not all that far from Venus, the brightest object in Earth's sky other than the moon and sun.

When exactly it disappears depends on the latitude where you're looking, but it'll start to disappear for people in the contiguous United States in early May, per EarthSky. That's going to be the case through the central US. It'll stick around longer further south, but will go away for everyone in the country by the summer solstice on June 20.

Like all non-circumpolar constellations and stars, Orion moves westward over the course of the year. (And also throughout each night, but those are separate things.) The motion of our planet and its orbit around the sun will bring the sun between our view and Orion. 

Nonetheless, the disappearance of Orion ushers in a brilliant time to be stargazing. The weather is warming, and we're arriving at a season that will showcase a bright Venus, a gathering of planets in the morning sky, and the return of dazzling meteor showers. Though, if you miss your friend with the fancy belt of stars, he'll be back in November. 

Ready to go stargazing?

Here are all the best stargazing events that you can get out and see this month or you could stay in a stream the northern lights from home. 

Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email and subscribe here for our YouTube channel to get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.

Dustin Nelson is a Senior Staff Writer at Thrillist. Follow him @dlukenelson.