I am trying to match up a detail of the Senemut ceiling to the time of the year it might involve. In the detail (shown below), the belt of Orion is slanted upwards from right to left:


Notice that the Orion Nebula is to the right. When I try to duplicate this in Stellarium, I can only get the belt to slant left to right, going up as shown below:

enter image description here

Is there some particular time of the year when the belt of Orion is visible from Egypt (Banî Suwayf) and slants upward going right to left, as in the Egyptian ceiling?

One answer below suggested that Orion's belt is like this when it rises, but I cannot duplicate it:

orion rising

In Stellarium, I found by experimentation that Orion seems to rise on the morning of July 18th at the latitude in question and date range in question. However, as can be seen in the screen shot the belt still goes left to right.

  • $\begingroup$ Is it possible that they are not drawing the position of the stars relative to the horizon, but relative to (for example) a line through Sirus and Rigel. When the stars are higher in the sky, it may be the relative positions that were seen as more important. $\endgroup$ – James K Sep 19 '15 at 16:16

EDIT: entirely new answer based on comments

You may actually be on to something here.

The most obvious (and thus least interesting) answer is that they were depicting Orion shortly after sunset, not shortly before sunrise (all times UTC):

enter image description here

Here is the helical rising of Orion today, and it does indeed go right to left:

enter image description here

If we go back 1000 years, it's much closer to being a straight line:

enter image description here

And if we go back to 1473 BCE (which is -1472), the rising is clearly left to right:

enter image description here

Interestingly, if we go far enough south, the rising is right to left even in -1472:

enter image description here

Note that position in which Orion rises doesn't change much from day to day. In other words, the position of Orion's stars at helical rising are the same as the position of Orion's stars at rising any other day of the year. Because of precession, the position does change over long periods of time, but not day to day.

The only problem with the "most obvious" answer above is that we know the Egyptians were very interested in helical risings, so it would be odd to see a depiction of a "helical setting".

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  • $\begingroup$ Are you talking about an actual stellar rising, when stars have their first visibility in the morning, or are you using some other definition of rising. The date you show (9/19) is way too late for Orion rising in Egypt. It rises in July. Also, remember that because of precession the stars looked different 3000 years ago. $\endgroup$ – Tyler Durden Sep 19 '15 at 14:27

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