Perseusrepresents the mythological Greek hero who decapitated the fearsome Medusa, whose gaze could turn men to stone. On his way back from this exploit, Perseus rescued Andromeda from the jaws of a sea monster. In the sky, Perseus lies next to Andromeda and her mother, Cassiopea, forming part of a great tableau depicting this most famous of Greek myths. Perseus is represented by brandishing his sword in his right hand, marked by the twin star clusters NGC 869 and NGC 884, while in his left hand he holds the head of Medusa, marked by the star Beta Persei, better known as Algol. A rich part of the Milky Way runs through Perseus, making it an attractive constellation for binocular users.
Depiction: The Hero
Highest in the Sky: November to December
Size Ranking: 24th
Coverage Area: 615 Sq. Degrees
Right Acension: 3 hours
Visibility: 90°N to 29°S
Double Cluster: Double open clusters
M34: Open cluster
M76: Cork Nebula
NGC 1499: California Nebula
Mirfak, Alpha Persei
Algol, Beta Persei
Miram, Eta Persei
Misam, Kappa Persei
Menkib, Xi Persei
Atik, Omicron Persei
Best Viewed Objects/Stars
A yellow-white super giant of magnitude 1.8, the brightest star in the constellation. It is a prominent member of a large and loose cluster of stars known as Melotte 20, visible with binoculars, which lies about 600 light-years away.
Beta Persei (Algol)
A famous eclipsing binary star consisting of a close pair of stars in orbit around each other. When the brighter star is eclipsing the fainter one, every 2 days and 21 hours, the magnitude drops from 2.1 to 3.4 for about 10 hours.
A variable red giant. Due to changes in size, it varies from magnitude 3.3 to 4.0 in a cycle lasting about 7 weeks.
An open cluster about 1,500 light-years away. It is visible with binoculars or a small telescope and appears about the same size as the full Moon. The cluster's brightest stars are of 7th magnitude.
NGC 869 and NGC 884 (The Double Cluster)
Two open clusters just visible to the naked eye; an excellent sight through binoculars or a small telescope. Each cluster covers about the same area of sky as the full Moon.