This article was contributed by David Baumgartner as part of a local series on astronomy.
This month’s constellation is one that most people, and even some amateur astronomers, know very little about. Even the Greek legends knew it was a river called Eridanus somewhere in Europe, but no one was sure where it was. So someone thought they should put the river up in the sky so they would know where to look for it.
The sky river is a long winding line of mostly faint stars. The constellation Cetus seems to be splashing into one bend of the river. The river flows downward to end below the horizon at a very bright star, too far south to be seen from the U.S. Its name is Achernar, meaning “end of the river” in Arabic.
The river seems to start at the star called Cursa, located just up and to the right from Rigel in Orion. Some storytellers say it’s not a spring of water, but a stool on which Orion can place his foot.
So if you don’t particularly like these two descriptions, river and stool, you can just come up with one of your own. Why not—the ancients did. Good luck in finding Eridanus. Clear skies.
What’s up this month?
Nov. 17- Leonid meteor shower peaks
Nov. 17- Moon passes 1.5 degrees south of Uranus
Nov. 19- Full Moon
Nov. 20- Moon is at apogee (252,450 miles from Earth)
Nov. 27- Last Quarter Moon