Constellation Family Groups: Orion

The Orion family consists of five constellations , Canis Major, Canis Minor, Monoceros, Lepus, and of course, Orion. It is the namesake of this family of constellations that is associated with “The Hunter.” Out of all the constellations, Orion is one of the most prominent. It is also revered as the largest and probably the most well known , thanks to a collection of rather bright stars. Throughout the year, Orion is pretty visible, as in the evening from the month of November to early May, as well as in the morning time from late July to November.

Canis Major

In Latin, Canis Major stands for “greater dog” and is thought to stand for one of the dogs associated with Orion the hunter. In Canis Major, Sirius (the brightest star in the night sky) is found, which is significant in comprising the part of the sky that is known as the Winter Triangle , found in the Northern Hemisphere. In the South, it is called the Summer Triangle.

Canis Major carries a long history, as early European classical days saw this constellation represented by other names, including Actaeon”s hound or the hound of Procris. Stories attached to this star formation includes the tale of Orion’s hunting dog who is in pursuit of Lepus the Hare or assisting his master in battling Taurus the Bull. With the ancient Greeks, only one dog is made reference to with Orion, while Roman times saw Canis Minor as the second child of Orion.

Canis Minor

Meaning “smaller dog,” Canis Minor was part of both the modern listing of constellations, as well as the list created by Ptolemy. This formation is believed to serve as one of the dogs that faithfully follow Orion the hunter. As a small constellation, there are still a couple of notable features, as this group consists of two stars (Procyon and Gomeisa). Procyon is actually the seventh brightest star in the night sky.


On a winter night sky setting, Monoceros appears as a faint constellation that has company in Orion to the west, Canis Major in the south, Hydra in the east, and Gemini in the north. It is also positioned close to Canis Minor, Puppis, and Lepus. It was Jakob Bartsch, who charted this modern constellation in a star chart created in 1624. At first, the constellation was known as Unicornus. Others have also played a role in the naming and observance of the constellation, including Ludwig Ideler and Petrus Plancius.


The constellation called Lepus means “hare” in Latin and can be found situated slightly south of the Celestial equator, located below the constellation of Orion. It is believed that this group of stars is thought to represent a hare that Orion the hunter may have his sights on. As one of the 88 modern constellations, it is also part of the 48 groupings recognized by Ptolemy. Often times, this constellation is often mistaken for Lupus, which actually belongs to the Hercules family (which offers the highest amount of constellations within this type of classification).