The Three Marys


I’ve found myself, once again, thinking of Betelgeuse this week. I last wrote about Betelgeuse in my post Night as bright as day? back in January 2011, and the speculation that it is due to go supernova sometime soon.

Betelgeuse makes up part of the Winter Triangle, or the Great Southern Triangle, with Sirius and Procyon making up the other two points of this Triangle. For some reason, which I will need to look into further, I have a strange ‘pull’ whenever I see the name Sirius. Not as strong as my pull to 1642, but a pull never the less. And triangles seem to have some kind of connection with me too, ever since my random vision of what I think is an equilateral triangle. I’ll write about my interpretation of my findings on Sirius in a later post.

Just to add to the confusion, the three stars I have just mentioned have nothing to do with the title of today’s post, although Betelgeuse is believed to be a runaway star from the group of stars that make up Orion’s Belt. The three stars in this belt are known as the Three Marys, and their real names sound, to me, as mystical and magical as any time honoured celestial object should.

Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka. The Three Magi.

Alnitak is another star that is dying. Another due to go Supernova sometime in the not too distant future. Alnitak is actually a trinary star, three stars that are orbiting each other, and the primary star is a blue supergiant.

Alnilam is also a blue supergiant, and also the thirtieth brightest star in the sky.

Mintaka is another multiple star, and the main part of the star is actually a binary star as well. With all of the interaction going on within this group of stars, if one of these stars were to explode, the whole lot will go supernova. But that fate is far in the future for this particular star. Mintaka is also seen as a portent of good fortune.

What I find fascinating about the stars is the vast distances involved. What we are seeing is not exactly what we are looking at, that’s for sure. Where we are seeing one star, there could actually be many, all living their own lives, doing their own thing, and have done so for centuries.

Even the stars in Orion’s Belt are light years apart from each other, as well as from Earth, but we observe them as being close together, and always have been.

Betelgeuse is a red giant star, and is situated on Orion’s shoulder, as we look at it. It is the eighth brightest star in the night sky, and is humungously larger than our very own Sun. And, speaking of magical phenomena, Betelgeuse is a shape shifter. Now that would be a handy power to have.

These, and all of the other stars in the galaxy for that matter, have been around longer than our planet. They would have been witness to the day life first appeared on this planet. They would have seen how the planet has evolved, how mankind has evolved. And possibly countless other planets similar to Earth orbiting other neighbouring stars. That means they would be witness to the developments of our ‘cousins’ in very far and mysterious lands.

They could have seen all of our wars or battles for freedom, depending on your point of view. They could have seen us scrambling to try to get objects, and even other people, just barely off the ground to go around our planet in the name of exploration and discovery. They could have seen our days of great triumph, and deepest darkness. Always just being there. Having said that, they probably wouldn’t have thought anything of us, if in fact they did notice us at all. They do have their own lives to lead as well.

So, that’s the Three Marys. The three stars in a row that have helped with ancient timekeeping and navigation over the years, and can be used to help us find Betelgeuse if we ever needed to look for it.

Orion's Belt

10 comments on “The Three Marys”

  1. Do you know, Tom, I have been having just the same thoughts as I pondered on the supernova. Just as we move at a different pace from a mouse, so the scale and pace of time for a planet is immeasurably vast to us. Wonderful post: I learn lots new today.


  2. When I think on stars, Sir Aquatom, I wonder if there’s still a possibility that we’ll ever travel to them. Since the Moon Landings I fear it’s been brought home how little we’ve actually moved forward in the race to visit the heavens. Star Trek wise. We dream and wonder about the vast yonder up there, the outer reaches of the known (and still unknown) Universe… Could we perhaps join them, rejoin maybe, as star dust when we pass on? …. You get an almost awe filled feeling when reading about the ancientness of stars, our whole lives are as nothing when taken in comparison.
    Betelgeuse,Betelgeuse,Betelgeuse, Just thinking on something else… 😉 xPenx


    1. Pen, we seem like nothing compared to the vast expanse of space (and that awe filled feeling you mention when we think about the Great Space is a great feeling, I find) yet we are still a part of it. Our troubles certainly seem small when you think of things the scale of the universe! I love thinking this way.
      I hope we do get to venture out there one day. As lovely as Earth is, it seems a pity that we have to remain in this tiny part of existence, and only reaching the Moon isn’t far enough for me…
      Oh, and gesundheit! 😀


  3. You reminded me of wonderful memories, as a child in South America, where we could see the Three Marys, and they were always comforting to look at. Now, I wonder if I can see them, here in the Northern Hemisphere? I don’t know, I know that constellations differ according to whichever hemisphere you live on. I love stars, loved astronomy as a child, but it’s a science that is long forgotten though the sense of wonder at seeing the 3 Marys will never leave me 🙂


    1. Hi Alannah, I think we can see them from here. In fact, I know we can, as I’ve seen them! Well, Orion’s Belt anyhow and the stars make up that! They may look at a slightly different angle to how they did in South America – although I’m only guessing here as I’ve never been… and I’m happy to have reminded you of your memories! 🙂


  4. Now I seem to remember calling that ‘Orion’s Sword’ but I am probably wrong on that one as it is simply years since I pondered the Stars and Planets, yes I used to have a telescope back then, though it seems ages ago now… How time moves on Aquatom…

    Thank you for adding such an interesting posting my wickedly fine friend 🙂



Would you like to leave a comment?

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.