The constellation of Eridanus must be one of the most confusing constellations. Eridanus, "The River", is not too difficult to pick out, in fact the star  Eridani lies fairly close to  Orionis, the brilliant Rigel whilst the rest of the constellation meanders in a line of faint stars south and westwards from this point, ending with the first magnitude star Achernar, which never rises in British climes. In mythology, Eridanus is thought to be the river that the Earth disgorged to drown the rash youngster Phaeton, who thought he could control the chariot of the Sun that belonged to his father Apollo. Phaeton lost control of the chariot, and to prevent harm to the inhabitants of the Earth, the river claimed him, but not before he had given the inhabitants of the continent of Africa a crisp sun tan, and thus mythically accounted for their skin colour today. It has also been identified with the river Nile, and with the vanished river Gihon mentioned in the bible as one of the rivers in the Garden of Eden.

Notable Objects

Achernar, a bright star which does not rise in Britain. NGC 1535 a planetary nebula known as “Cleopatra’s Eye”