Eridanus Constellation: Facts & Myths

The night sky is one of the most beautiful scenes to gaze at. The most important element in the night sky are the stars. Stars sometimes congregate to form constellations (though they are not real).

There is a total of 88 known constellations. The most famous ones are Big Dipper, Ursa MajorUrsa MinorOrionCassiopeia.

The smallest constellation is Crux (the Southern Cross) and the second smallest is Equuleus. The largest is Hydra.

There is the sixth-largest constellation of all the known ones named as Eridanus. It represents a river. The real Po River was later named after the same name’s Latin version and also for a minor river in Athens.

Basic Info on This Constellation

As mentioned before, Eridanus is the sixth-largest constellation. The symbol of this constellation is the river Eridanus. In Sanskrit, it is called Srotaswini, which means the course of a stream or river. The abbreviation for this constellation is ‘Eri.’ The total number of main stars are 24, and it covers 1138 square degree. The number of stars with planets is 32. It is in the southern hemisphere and is in the first quadrant. This constellation can be seen at latitudes between +32° and -90°. The bordering constellations are TaurusOrionLepusCaelumHorologiumTucanaHydrusPhoenixFornax, and Cetus.

Even though this constellation has such a large size, there are just a few bright stars in it. The brightest star of this constellation is Achernar, 0.46 being its visual magnitude. The distance between Earth and this star is 189 light years. Also, according to facts, in the sky, it is the ninth brightest star. The second brightest star is Cursa, whose magnitude is 2.79. The distance between Earth and Cursa is 89 light years. The third brightest star is Zaurak, whose magnitude is 2.91. This star’s supply of hydrogen has exhausted, and it fuses heavier elements.

This constellation is best visible during December, at 21:00. The stars of Eridanus do not have any meteor showers neither does it have any Messier objects, but it does have few faint nebulas and galaxies. This includes Witch Nebula and Eridanus group. This constellation is related to the ‘Heavenly Waters’ family, along with VelaPyxisPuppisPiscis AustrinusEquuleusDelphinusColumba, and Carina.

The Myth of Eridanus

This constellation is related to the Greek mythology. The constellation is related to Phaëton, who was the son of Helios, the sun god and Clymene, the Oceanid. Phaëton kept pleading for his father’s permission as he wanted to drive his father Helios’s chariot across the sky. Helios agreed to it, but as there was the track where wheel marks were present, he advised Phaëton to follow those tracks. After Phaëton mounted the chariot, the horses sensed driver as being lightweight, so the horses flew upwards and left the familiar track behind. As Phaëton was inexperienced, he could not keep the horses in control and so the reins slipped. And then the chariot fell very close to Earth, due to which lands caught fire, both on Heaven and Earth.