Constellation of the month: The River Eridanus

David Baumgartner writes about a long winding line of mostly faint stars.

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                   


David Baumgartner

I am a local fella. Local schools from Fremont, Sacred Heart, Santa Anita, Hollister High, to San Benito Jr. College (Now Gavilan). Then joined the US Air Force where I specialized in Airborne Radar. Married my high school sweetheart JoAnne., shortly after three children arrived; Cindi, Michael, and Lisa. Somehow we ended up with nine Grandchildren.  Went on to San Luis Obispo, Questa, Colleges, and on to Univ. of New Mexico. Came back to Hollister. Opened up Three Pet Stores; Dave's Aquarium Pets & Supplies in SLO, Watsonville, and Hollister. The family spent two and a half years running a ranch up in Oregon. Made our way back to Hollister.  Got my Real Estate License in 1982, opened my own office in 93'. In the mean time raised Swans and revitalized my old hobby of Astronomy.  In 2001 I was named Chamber of Commence Man of the Year. I think I was the only one nominated. I don't care, I'm taking it. In December of 2018 I retired. Not sure if I was forced out or not. None the less, I am retired and I think it was time. Now the last thing I have to do is buy a coffin. I hear COSCO sells them now. But the only drawback is; you have to buy them in lots of six.  I guess I could buy them for the whole family. Not that funny, but thrifty.