Portrayed in the sky as Canis Major and Canis Minor, Orion the Hunter is not the only one owning pets. Canes Venatici is associated to Bootes the Herdman and can be located high in the sky and below the handle of the Big Dipper. However unlike most of the constellations we encounter, Canes does not possess and asterism except for line connecting Cor Caroli to Chara and yet it is the 38th constellation in area with 465 square degrees of sky.
As we peer up at the night sky, drinking in photons from celestial objects far, far, away, one easily takes on the relaxed position with no schedule. As the months goes by, we greet our favourite Messier object as they emerge from the dawn sky into the blackness of the night. This game is repeated throughout the year until we have recovered all 110 Messier objects. There is however a very tight window of opportunity where all Messiers can be found on a single night.
As we finally leave winter behind this month and jump into spring, we cannot help but notice the days getting longer. As we tick our way through the calendar, our sun’s angle moves a bit farther north, rewarding us with more than three minutes of light per day. However for astronomers this translates into shorter and shorter nights. It is not until the month of June that we only begin observing at about 9:30 p.m. and later local time but for now, our observing window is still on our side.
Eridanus the River is a long but narrow constellation found at this time of year above the southern horizon or at least its top half as seen from Canada. Starting close to the celestial equator, the entire asterism stretches down almost sixty degrees. Unlike the brilliant suns of the constellation Orion to the left, Eridanus lacks any bring stars and only range in brightness from magnitude 3.2 to 5.0 except for magnitude 2.9 Cursa. They are however unique in their individual life stories.