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Orion’s (Other) Belt

StarDate: 
January 7, 2018

Orion strides boldly across the southern sky on winter nights. The big, beautiful constellation is low in the east and southeast at nightfall. Its most conspicuous feature is a short line of three bright stars known as Orion’s Belt. It points almost straight up into the sky in early evening.

The people of Corpus Christi, Texas, don’t have to wait for night to see Orion’s Belt — it’s in view all the time, day and night. That’s because the belt’s three stars — Alnitak, Alnilam, and Mintaka — are represented by a public sculpture.

It was created more than 15 years ago by Robert Perless, who has designed many of his works to interact with the wind.

Orion’s Belt consists of three dagger-like wind vanes atop tall poles. Each vane is 55 feet long, and looks a bit like a 1950s concept of a star liner. The vanes move with the winds that buffet the coastal city. They’re sensitive to even a whisper of a breeze.

Perless has done some other works with a cosmic theme. In 2008, for example, he created “Dream Weaver,” based on string theory. It consists of ribbons of aluminum coated with a holographic material. The surface of the ribbons looks like a spectrum — a rainbow of colors.

His Corpus Christi work also incorporates many of Orion’s other bright stars. They\'re represented by stainless steel disks embedded in sidewalks around the city. The disks are arranged just as Orion’s stars are in the sky — some bright markers around Orion’s Belt.

 

Script by Damond Benningfield

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