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Sci-Tech

This is what Orion's stars will look like in 450,000 years

Peer into the future with a video showing the movement of the stars in the Orion constellation over hundreds of thousands of years.

Orion the hunter is one of the most recognizable constellations in the night sky thanks to the three bright stars that make up its distinctive belt. But stars drift over long periods of time, so Orion won't always look quite the same to us here on Earth as it does today. The European Space Agency released a video on Friday showing how Orion will change over the next 450,000 years.

The ESA's mesmerizing visualization is based on data collected by its Gaia and Hipparcos satellites combined with observations made on Earth. 

"By measuring their current movements, we can reconstruct the past trajectories of stars through the Milky Way to study the origins of our Galaxy, and even estimate stellar paths millions of years into the future," the ESA notes. Orion's belt takes on a slight curve while the red supergiant Betelgeuse drifts out of frame at the top.  

We don't have to worry about Orion changing beyond recognition in our lifetimes, however. The motion of the stars is too subtle for us to notice.