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A white star near the eastern shoulder of Orion, 52 Orionis lies close to brilliant Betelgeuse (just two degrees from that star) on the edges of the Milky Way. It lies almost on - in fact marginally to the south of - an imaginary line between Betelgeuse and Orion's other shoulder-star, Bellatrix.

52 Orionis lies just a little farther from Solar System than Betelgeuse (about 479 light years away, while Betelgeuse is about 52 light years closer). Betelgeuse, however, is a highly luminous giant star, while 52 Orionis is a dwarf or Main Sequence star like the Sun. This makes it faint in the sky, with a magnitude of +5.96 that makes it barely detectable to even the keenest observers without optical aid.

In fact 52 Orionis is not a single star, but a binary system composed of two closely similar stars that share an A-type or White spectral classification. These two stars orbit each other so closely that they are difficult to distinguish as separate objects from the vantage of an observer on Earth.

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