Mythology Behind The Perseus Constellation
When you view the Perseus constellation remember
the Greek mythological hero it represents.
As a baby Perseus and his mother Danae were sealed
in a large chest and cast into the ocean by his
grandfather King Acrisius.
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.
Young, handsome, strong Perseus had no money and
couldn't afford a gift King Polydectes was furious.
Polydectes thought he could get rid of Perseus and
sent him on an impossible task.
Triumphs of Perseus
King Polydectes told Perseus that to make amends he
would have to bring the king the head of the Gorgon
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
It is said that the
winged horse 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.
Perseus used the Medusa head to turn Atlas into
stone and ease his burden.
Perseus then saw the beautiful
awaiting her fate from the seamonster Cetus.
Perseus uses the Medusa head and turns Cetus
to stone. Cutting Andromeda free, Perseus
returns her to her home and eventually marries
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.
Views Of The Perseus Constellation
Position in the Sky
Right Ascension: 3 hours
Declination: 45 degrees
Visible between latitudes 90 and -35 degrees
Best seen in December (at 9:00 PM)
MIRPHAK (Alpha Per)
ALGOL (Beta Per)
Miram (Eta Per)
Menkib (Xi Per)
Atik (Omicron Per)
Gorgonea Secunda (Pi Per)
Gorgonea Tertia (Rho Per)
Gorgonea Quarta (Omega Per)
Algol is known as the "demon star". It is probably the
most famous star in the Perseus constellation.
Algol means "the ghoul" in Arabic. Think of Ra's Al Ghul
from Batman(comics and movies).
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 dumbell" nebula.
Within NGC1260 is the second brightest object seen in the
universe, SN2006gy. SN stands for SuperNova.
Perseus constellation to constellations homepage
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