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Beta Orionis, 19 Orionis

Proper NameRigel
Bayer DesignationBeta Orionis
Flamsteed Number19 Orionis
HR (BSC)1713
Right Ascension5h 14m 32s
Declination-8° 12' 6"
Distance863 light years
265 parsecs
MagnitudeApparent: +0.28
Absolute: -6.83
Spectral ClassB8Ia blue supergiant
Optimum VisibilityDecember
NotesThe supergiant at the core of the Rigel system is a pulsating variable star of the Alpha Cygni type; it is orbited by a binary system of two blue dwarf stars.

The pulsating blue supergiant Rigel has a diameter of about 100 million kilometres, some seventy times that of the Sun. In the far distance a double blue star is visible - Rigel's much less luminous companions.

A blue supergiant star that remains very bright despite lying more than 860 light years away. At a distance of 10pc, it would be much brighter than Venus.

Location of Rigel

The famous blue star Rigel forms the western foot of the Hunter Orion, and indeed its Arabic name means 'Leg of the Giant'.


The pattern of Rigel's variability suggests that it is turbulent and energetic, with the star's internal processes sending complex patterns of waves and ripples across its surface regions.

Relative Galactic Position of Rigel

The galactic position and direction of Rigel relative to Earth's Sun. Note that, at this extreme scale, the two stars are effectively in the same place.

The three most prominent stars surrounding Rigel in the sky are Tau Orionis (to the north), e Orionis (to the east) and Lambda Eridani (to the west). The nebulous region in the southeast of this image represents the southern end of the structure known as Barnard's Loop. The blue-grey streak in the north and west is the Witch Head Nebula. Imagery provided by Aladin sky atlas


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