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The Orion and its region

Dominating constellation of  winter nights is Orion. Not far from that the brighest star of the whole sky, the Sirius can be found.

Comets are named after their discoverer usually. Halley, however, did not discover any. He calculated one! So he chose a laborious method to find them. Here is what Dr. Joseph Wodetzky writes about it in his book Comets:

"Thus he calculated the orbits of those comets about which reliable observations were available. He found twenty four cometary paths during three and a half centuries from 1337 to 1687. ... If now calculating the orbital elements of different comets we find that some of them are in the same plane, move in the same piece of parabolic path, and their return to perihelion always repeated in the same number of years from time to time, what should we conclude from this? The fact that the comet's orbit is certainly not a parabola, but rather an ellipse and only for a small interval of the visibility it matches to a parabola. ... Halley also noticed it, when calculations found that three comets' parabolic orbital elements were the same. These comets were as follows: the 1531, observed by Appianus, the 1607 observed by Kepler and the 1682 by Flamsteed's and Halley's own observations sharing the same derived elements. This arrangement led Halley to the thought that the three comets were therefore actually the same, the orbit in this case was a lengthy elongated ellipse, and the orbital period was set between 75 and 76 years. Strengthened this supposition that 75 years before the 1530 comet, in 1456, a comet appeared and that just as in the case of 1682 comet, it caused a stir with its light and huge tail across Europe. If Halley had known Toscanelli's observations, he would certainly have calculated the elements of the comet in 1456 and indeed would have found a match, just as in elements of the 1531 and 1607 comets. But for Halley the identity of these three comets' orbital elements and the regular returning in every 75th year from 1456 was completely sufficient evidence to deduct the conclusion that the 1456, 1531, 1607 and 1682 comets were the different appearances of one and the same comet."

comet 1910 obreverse

Halley prognosticated the comet's next perihelion transition to the end of 1758 or the beginning of 1759. He died in 1742 and he did not live the joy to see that his conclusion was fulfilled. The comet passed through the perihelion on 12 March, 1759, and earned the name of Halley's Comet. After that it had perihelion transition on 16 November 1835 and 20 April 1910. Crommelin and Cromwell, astronomers at Greenwich calculated previous perihelion transitions of Halley's comet back up to 760 BC. They could find historical evidence to 87 BC, and using Chinese data records even up to 240 BC observational data. For the return in 1910 a medal was issued. The engraver was Ernst Torff. He indicated on the obverse all the perihelion date from transition 240 BC up to 1910, to day precision. Below the Treptow city's (now part of Berlin) observatory, above the starry sky, in the middle the constellation Orion, several other constellations and names of brighter stars are displayed. In the vertical direction the Milky Way, horizontally the comet's orbit is visible among the stars. Over the starry sky we find with very small letters the name of the astronomer who assisted the exact design of the coin: "NACH DR. F. S. ARCHENHOLD" that is Friedrich Simon Archenhold, the founder of Treptow observatory. The observatory is still operating, just under a new name. It is named to Archenhold Observatory after its founder. On the top of the obverse three rows of text is placed: "DAS · ERSCHEINEN · DES HALLEYSCHEN KOMETEN V· JAHRE 240 V. CHR · B · 1910 N . CHR · IN SEINER · SONNENNÄHE"

comet 1910 reverse

The reverse of the medal is decorated with a portrait of Edmund Halley. Date of his birth and death on both sides: 1656 - 1742. Legend: "ZUR · ERINNERUNG · A. D. ERSCHEINEN · HALLEYSCHEN · KOMETEN · 1910 · U. Z. FÖRDERUNG · WISSENSCHAFTLICHER · ARBEITEN · DER · TREPTOW : STERNWARTE * HALLEY · BESIEGTE DIE · KOMETENFURCHT *". The medal was made of both 30 mm and 60 mm diameter.

The return of Halley's comet in year 1456 has Hungarian national aspects, as it was the Triumph of Nándorfehérvár, one of the most significant events of the Hungarian-Turkish war, in which between July 4 to 21, 1456, the Christians (Serbs and Hungarians) led by Mihály Szilágyi heroically defended the fortress of Nándorfehérvár (today's Belgrade) against Turkish Sultan Mehmed II more than tenfold outnumbered besieging army, and on July 22 the Turks were defeated in a battle beside the castle under the leadership of János Hunyadi. In the bull of Pope Calixtus III Bulla Orationum edicted on 29 June, 1456 ordered a prayer three times in half-hour intervals "in every church of all cities, areas and places between the three o'clock and the evening prayer". The prayer was intended to promote the Christian victory over the Turks. The Halley's Comet also appeared on the sky at this time. In the public's mind these three things, the ringing of the bells, the comet and the victory were connected later and now in the western world the ringing of the bells at noon is remembered as what the Pope ordered because of deterring the comet, and in Hungary, as the commemoration of the bright victory.

Halley Götz obverseHalley 1910 reverseAnother medal was deigned by Karl Goetz. The center of the obverse is dominated by the Sun, at the bottom the Halley's comet, whose tail reaches and also covers the Earth. In the inner circle the name of the comet "KOMET HALLEY" beneath date 19.-20. MAI 1910. The perihelion date in 1910 was on 20 April, so currently no explanation of the date May on the medal. Legend outside: "JEDE WOLKE - SO SCHWARZ SIE DROHT - DEM - HIMMEL ZUGEWANDT", inside "DOCH IHRE LICHTE SONNENSEITE HAT". This is a citation of chapter 14th of Friedrich Wilhelm Weber's work  Goliath, in English: even the darkes cloud has a sunny side, that looks at the Sun.

On the reverse a spectacular representation of the constellation Orion, the Canis Maior, Lepus, Cetus, Serpent, and in the center the comet is displayed. The signs of the zodiac is visible around the rim.

The Orion, or very similar representation can be found on the obverse of an aluminum commemorative token issued in 1924 for the British Empire Exhibition. In the middle of the obverse an island with a palm tree, in the background behind the peak the Orion is visible. The legend is: "WEST INDIAN & ATLANTIC GROUP", while in the bottom in three rows: "BRITISH EMPIRE EXHIBITION 1924".

british empire exibition obversebritish empire exhibition reverse

The seven-line inscription of the reverse almost duplicates the text of the obverse: "WEST INDIES BRITISH HONDURAS AND FALKLAND ISLANDS - BRITISH EMPIRE EXHIBITION 1924". The listed countries suspected to be the issuing countries, however, do not provide any further clues on the obverse image of the coin.

Orion – the great hunter of Greek mythology - inspired the legends of other nations as well. Mesopotamian king Nimrod were also considered to be a mighty hunter and a symbol of strength, whom the Hungarian tradition named as Ménrót and also appeared in the Bible as Noah's grandson. No wonder you get to see him in the guise of the Orion constellation. The legend of the silver coin gives no hint to who issued this medal.

british empire exibition obversebritish empire exhibition reverse

On the obverse, in the middle a fancy dressed Scythian warrior with a bow in his hand is visible. Behind him the Orion constellation is depicted with its stars connected by lines and two of its brightest stars, RIGEL and  BETELGEUZE are named. Below the warrior's name NIMRUD is visible. On the reverse under a semi-circle crescent above it a leaping deer is depicted.

Scythian, Turkic, Hungarian, Avar and Hun warriors gather around the Orion constellation in the following Hungarian commemorative medal. The main stars of Orion are connected by lines, and the stars are also identified by their Bayer designation.

british empire exibition obversebritish empire exhibition reverse

On the revers a needle holder with Rovas script that was found in Szarvas, Hungary is visible. Around Rovas script writing signs are depicted within the needle holder and its legend is displayed.

The Orion is visible on a commemorative coin issued in Malaysia for the International Year of Astronomy 2009. The obverse depicts the Langkawi National Observatory with its main telescope in the center. The background displays the constellation Orion and the planet Saturn. The words "INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF ASTRONOMY 2009" appears in the legend around to signify the global celebration of astronomy.

Langkawi reverseLangkawi obverse

The reverse depicts the official logo of IYA2009 and its main theme "The Universe, Yours To Discover". The words "Bank Negara Malaysia" and the denomination of the coin is reflected on the upper and lower circumference of the coin respectively.

An extremely fine Orion can be found on one of the medals of Essi Renval. On the obverse raised dots mark the stars, and some connecting lines help us to recognise immediately the constellation. As a legend only the sign of the medallist is visible.

Kaleva obverseKaleva reverse

We are informed from the reverse that this heavy, 234 gram weight and 72 mm diameter medal was created for celebrating the 75th anniversary of the establishment of Kaleva newspaper company. The company - which is the biggest newspaper company in northern Finland, and issues the fourth largest daily newspaper in Finland - is still existing today.  The headquarters of the company is visible, in front of the map of Finland. Legend is: "KALEVA", "1899-1974", below "VAPAA SANOMALEHTI".