Home > Constellations, Ephemeris Program, Mythology > 01/23/2014 – Ephemeris – The river Eridanus

01/23/2014 – Ephemeris – The river Eridanus

January 23, 2014

Ephemeris for Thursday, January 23rd.  The sun will rise at 8:10.  It’ll be up for 9 hours and 28 minutes, setting at 5:38.   The moon, 1 day before last quarter, will rise at 1:31 tomorrow morning.

There is a long and sinuous constellation that’s part of the winter sky.  It is Eridanus, which depicts a river.  The river starts near the lower right corner of Orion, near the bright star Rigel and flows to the right then down near the southern horizon, then it meanders below the horizon.  One has to travel to the far southern United States or even farther south to see the southern terminus of the river, the bright star Achernar.  Writers over the ages have seen here the Nile and the earth circling river Ocean of the flat earth days.  One of its stars is close to us and famous.  It’s Omicron 2 Eridani a triple star system and the fictional home to Mr. Spock and other Vulcans of the Star Trek franchise.  No real planet has been found there.  Yet.

Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan.  They may be different for your location.


Note:  In previous posts about Eridanus I had identified Epsilon Eridani and the fictional Mr. Spock’s home star.  It’s actually Omicron 2 according to Gene Roddenberry himself.

Speaking of Vulcan, Star Trek fans nominated Vulcan for one of the names for Pluto’s latest two satellites, apparently forgetting that Vulcan was borrowed from Roman mythology as the god of fire, and the history of astronomy.  Pluto and its satellites are some of the coldest bodies in the solar system, and the International Astronomical Union (IAU) had designated that the satellites carry on the Pluto and Hades or underworld theme.  Anyway, in the mid 19th century some astronomers thought they discovered a planet that resided inside the orbit of Mercury and named it appropriately, Vulcan.  If anything is ever found orbiting inside Mercury, it may get the name Vulcan.  As for the names of the latest two moons of Pluto, they are Styx named after the the River Styx; and Kerberos,  Greek for Cerberus the three headed dog that guards the entrance to Hades.  Harry Potter fans may know this creature better as “Fluffy”.


The constellation of the river Eridanus above and below the horizon for 9 p.m. on January 23, 2014. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

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