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.
Planning An Observing Session Plus A Surprise Shower !!!
Observing the night sky comes in two flavours. The first is the spur of the moment feeling of grabbing binoculars or a small scope as we fly out the door. Here we spend about 20 minutes looking at our favourite Messier or NGC objects as well as the moon or planets thus satisfying our need to observe photons. The other more involved task is planning a lengthily observing session either in the backyard or an out of town expedition. Lunar and planetary observing and photography do not need dark country skies.
The mighty lion makes itself visible as it climbs the sky on these April nights. The outline of the familiar beast is quite recognizable as related to the Big Dipper. The Dipper stars form a pot with a handle and if you were to drill a hole in the celestial pot, water would pour onto the back of Leo. The Lion’s front half is portrayed by a sickle or backwards question mark starting from the bright star Regulus. This star is about five times the size of our sun and about 160 times brighter.