Perseus – hero of the night sky

The constellation of Perseus

In Greek mythology the hero Perseus chopped off the Gorgon, Medusa’s head and used its ability to turn whatever looked at it to stone in order to save the beautiful princess Andromeda, who was chained to the rocks by the coast, from the sea monster Cetus.

The constellation of Perseus ans surrounding constellations

The constellation of Perseus ans surrounding constellations. Made using Stellarium.

 

Whilst not the most obvious of constellations to find in the night sky, it was one of 48 constellations to feature in 2nd Century Greek astronomer Ptolemy’s almanac. Perhaps the most famous star is the eye of Medusa – Algol – a variable, triple star system. This is 3 stars orbiting one another changing the apparent brightness of the ‘star’ we see from Earth over a period of just a few days. The brightest star in the constellation though is Mirphak.

The constellation of Perseus showing Mirphak and Algol

The constellation of Perseus showing Mirphak and Algol. Made using Stellarium.

The Perseid meteor shower is one of the most notable of the annual astronomy caldendar and appear to emminate from the constellation of Perseus.

The Perseids can see as many as 60 to 100 meteors per hour for viewers in the Northern hemisphere from late July to late August.

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About Derek Shirlaw

I'm passionate about science communication, social media, and my home country, Scotland. In particular, I have a real interest in astronomy, digital marketing, and the great outdoors.
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  1. Pingback: Derek Shirlaw » Watch the Perseids meteor shower

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