The Perseus Constellation
A Sad Start For a Hero

The story of the Perseus constellation starts as a baby, and his mother Danae, were sealed in a large chest and cast into the ocean by his grandfather King Acrisius. This baby would grow up to perform many important feats and be regarded as a hero.

The Oracle of Apollo told Acrisius that Danae's child would one day kill him.

To prevent this Danae was locked away and not allowed to marry. But Zeus disguised himself as a shaft of golden sunlight and visited Danae in her locked tower prison.

After the birth of Perseus, from the union of Danae and Zeus, Acrisius sent them away, remembering the prophecy.

Winding up in the land of Seriphus mother and child were taken in by King Polydectes.

Years later Polydectes fell in love with Danae and wanted to marry her. Perseus being very protective of his mother tried to keep the two apart.

Danae eventually agreed and Polydectes declared that everyone in the kingdom must give them a present. This was part of his plan to rid himself of Perseus.

Young, handsome, strong Perseus had no money and couldn't afford a gift. He tried to make it up to the king by doing any task the king assigned.

Polydectes thought he could get rid of Perseus and sent him on an impossible task.

King Polydectes told him that to make amends he would have to bring the king the head of the Gorgon Medusa.

The Medusa had the power of turning whoever or whatever it looked at into stone.

Using special gifts given to him by the Gods, Perseus was able to slay the Medusa by looking at the reflection of it in his shield, like a mirror, and chopping off the head.

It is said that Pegasus was born from the neck of the slain Medusa.

Returning to Seriphus with the head sealed inside a sack, Perseus saw Atlas struggling to hold the world on his shoulders. He used the Medusa head to turn Atlas into stone and ease his burden.

Perseus then saw the beautiful Andromeda awaiting her fate from the sea-monster Cetus.

Using the Medusa head and turning Cetus to stone, cutting Andromeda free, Perseus returns her to her home and eventually marries her.

After returning to his birthplace, the kingdom of Argos, Perseus fulfills the prophecy of the Oracle and accidentally kills his grandfather King Acrisius with a discus.

Finding The Perseus constellation

Perseus starfield
Perseus constellation outline

Right Ascension: 3 hours

Declination: 45 degrees

Visible between latitudes +90 and -35 degrees

Best seen in December at 9:00 PM local time

Named Stars: MIRPHAK (Alpha Persei) ALGOL (Beta Persei) Miram (Eta Persei) Menkib (Xi Persei) Atik (Omicron Persei) Gorgonea Secunda (Pi Persei) Gorgonea Tertia (Rho Persei) Gorgonea Quarta (Omega Persei)

Algol is known as the "demon star". It is probably the most famous star in the Perseus constellation. Algol means "the ghoul" in Arabic.

Double clusters NGC869 and NGC884 make for excellent views in both binoculars and telescopes. Both are just over 7000 light years away.

Open cluster M34 is a good sight for binoculars and even better in a telescope using low magnification.

M76 is a planetary nebula known as the little Dumbbell Nebula.

Within NGC1260 is the second brightest object seen in the universe, SN2006gy. SN stands for Supernova.

The Perseids meteor shower is not to be missed. From mid-July to mid-August peaking around August 10th. This shower can approach 100 meteors at hour at the peak activity time.

Bounded by:Aries   Taurus   Auriga   Camelopardalis   Cassiopeia Andromeda    Triangulum

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