The newest edition shows the constellation called “Orion” (or “Orion the Hunter”), which is one of the most famous collection of stars the world around. Because Orion is positioned across from the celestial equator, it is recognizable throughout most of the world. In fact, Orion is even mentioned in the Bible.
The new Orion coin shares many features in common with the past two Southern Sky coins -- the Pavo and the Crux. Orions are one ounce, 39.62 mm, .999 fine silver coins and have beautifully coloured, proof finishes.
Like many Australian coins, Orions feature the profile image Queen Elizabeth II on one side. The former British monarch appears on more coins worldwide than any other human being in history. The Orion version shows an elderly Elizabeth, wearing a tiara and a serious expression. The effigy was created by Ian Rank-Broadley. The image of the Orion constellation was done by Aaron Baggio.
The Royal Australian Mint decided to stay with the unique, unusual and eye-catching dome shape for the Orion. The entire Southern Sky series has been a successful exercise in numismatic pioneering.
Orion Coin Launch
One very cool note about the Orion launch: former NASA astronaut Richard Herb visited the Royal Australian Mint and actually struck three of the coins himself. Richard Herb is most famous for breaking the record for the longest “spacewalk” in history when he reached orbit in the space shuttleEndeavour.
Now, Mr. Herb is the first astronaut to partake in a Mint launch. It is possible that striking the three coins wasn’t quite as exciting as spacewalking, though.
Uniquely, one of the Orion coins may find its way into space. The aerospace engineering firm Lockheed Martin is currently working with the Royal Australian Mint to include one an Orion in the payload of a capsule that will be part of a future deep space mission. Nothing has been finalized yet, but the notoriety of such an adventure could boost an already strong demand for Southern Sky coins.
The Southern Sky series was first introduced in 2012 with the Southern Crux coin. The offering was met with immediate success and international demand. Issued around $100, the coin now sells for as much as $500.
A second coin, the Pavo, was released in 2013, and has had a similar following to that of the Crux. For those who may not have heard of it, the Pavo is one of the twelve constellations created by Petrus Plancius on a voyage to the southern seas between 1595 and 1597.
Each Southern Sky coin is delivered in a protective capsule that includes a Certificate of Authenticity, presentation case and outer box.
Mintage for Orion coins has been set at 10,000.