Winter Hexagon & Winter Triangle

Star Lore

The Winter Hexagon is an asterism appearing to be in the form of a hexagon with vertices at Rigel (β Ori), Aldebaran (α Tau), Capella (α Aur), Pollux (β Gem), Procyon (α CMi) and Sirius (α CMa).

Two of the stars of the Hexagon are also part of the The Winter Triangle, an astronomical asterism formed from three of the brightest stars in the winter sky, Sirius (α CMa), Betelgeuse (α CMi) and Procyon (α CMi).

Lakota (North America)

Gleœka Wakaŋ, the Sacred Hoop is a ring of red clay surrounding Paha Sapa - the Black Hills. It is also called Ki Iŋyaŋka Oçaŋku, the Racetrack.

In a Lakota creation story, the ring became the race track on which the Great Race between the four legged and the winged-ones took place. The race was to determine the fate of the two-legged - the humans. The buffalo claimed superiority over all other creatures and challenged the humans to a race. The birds entered the race on behalf the humans.

At the end of the race, Running Slim, a lean female buffalo who was in the lead throughout almost the entire race got too sure of her win and stopped paying attention to her competitors. At the last minute, Magpie won the race, which gave humans superiority over the buffalo.

You can read the whole story at Akta Lakota Museum.

Ki Iŋyaŋka Oçaŋku - The race track
© Native Skywatchers

Dakota astronomy puts the race track into the heavens, connecting some of the brightest stars of the winter sky. The constellation is almost identical with the "western" asterism Winter Hexagon. The only difference: It bypasses Aldebaran (α Tau) and extends into the Pleiades.

Clockwise, the racetrack connects Sirius (α CMa), Procyon (α CMi), Pollux (β Gem), Castor (α Gem), Capella (α Aur), the Pleiades and Rigel (β Ori).

Sources: Dakota Constellation Guide, Akta Lakota Museum,, Astro by Mark

Sotho, Tswana (Southern Africa)

The Basuto, Lobedu, Northern Sotho and Tswana had a constellation called Magakgala or Mahakala that was formed by the four bright stars Procyon (α CMi), Betelgeuse (α Ori), Rigel (β Ori) and Sirius (α CMa).

When these stars were visible in the early evening, it was time for the corn harvest.

Source: ASSA - African Ethnoastronomy

Procyon, Betelgeuse, Rigel and Sirius

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