Eridanus the River


The river Eridanus is said to represent the river Po into which Phaethon drowned. Phaethon was the son of Phoebus who drove the chariot of the Sun across the sky. Phaethon begged to drive the horses until one day his father relented, though knowing it was unwise. Unfortunately, Phaethon could not control the horses and they bolted, carrying the Sun in an erratic path through the sky. Jupiter recognized the danger and hurled a thunderbolt at Phaethon, knocking him into the river Po, where he drowned. The nymphs recovered his body and buried it beside the river where his sisters wept endlessly. Jupiter felt pity for the sisters and changed them into poplar trees that they might always be near and protect their brother.

For the Observer

Autumn and Winter Skies

Alpha Eridani, Achernar(01h35m.9 -57°30') has a magnitude of 0.53 and is a hot blue-white class B5 star about 120 light years distant. The star is about 7 times the size of our Sun.

Beta Eridani, Cursa (05h05m.4 -05°09') has a magnitude of 2.79 and is a class A3 star about 80 light years distant.

Gamma Eridani, Zaurak (03h55m.7 -13°39') has a magnitude of 2.9 and is a class M0 star about 260 light years distant.

NGC1535 is a planetary nebula with a magnitude of 9.0. It appears as a pale blue disc with a central star.

Copyright © 1995 - 2003
Kathy Miles, Author, and Chuck Peters, Systems Administrator