The Perseus constellation is a boreal constellation that gets its name from Greek mythology. Representing a Greek demigod, the constellation is known for its antiquity. Surrounded by prominent stars, nebulae, asterisms, and other celestial bodies, the Perseus constellation is quite fascinating to study. Here are some interesting facts about the Perseus constellation.
Basic information on Perseus constellation
- Perseus is a circumpolar constellation as seen from 40 degrees N. latitude.
- It is 92.8 light years from Earth.
- It extends for 615 square degrees and has 158 stars in it.
- Of the 88 known constellations, Perseus is the 24th largest constellation.
- It can be seen in the northern hemisphere from August to March and in the southern hemisphere during spring and early summer.
Stars of Perseus Constellation
Mirphak/ Mirfak (Alpha Persei) is the brightest star in the Perseus constellation. Mirfak is derived from Arabic, which means the elbow of Pleiades. It is a yellow supergiant star, 62 times larger and 8 times brighter than the sun. Mirphak star is the most prominent member of the Alpha Persei star cluster. Alpha Persei Star cluster is a luminous star cluster in the Perseus constellation easily visible to the naked eye.
Algol (Beta Persei) is a binary star and the second brightest star in the Perseus constellation. Algol is located on the severed head carried by Perseus. Colloquially, Algol is known as the Demon Star. Once Mirphak is spotted, Algol star becomes quite easy to spot in the sky.
Menkib (Zeta Persei) is the third brightest star in the Perseus constellation. It is located on the left foot of Perseus.
The star 53 Persei is the fourth brightest star in Perseus. It is a slow pulsating blue supergiant. Its non-radial pulsations cause parts of the solar surface to move outward and others even inward.
Star Clusters in Perseus Constellation
M34 is a cluster of 100 stars, of which at least 20 are bright and prominent. It is located about 5 degrees west of Algol.
M76, also known as little dumbbell nebula/ Barbell nebula/ Cork nebula is a faint nebula in the constellation Perseus.
The Double Cluster of Perseus is a pair of star clusters h and χ Persei. It is considered a sky jewel, although, it is not visible to the naked eye. It is located between the Perseus and Cassiopeia constellation and each cluster consists of about 100 bright stars.
Perseus is surrounded by 7 more constellations
These constellations are Cassiopeia and Camelopardalis in the North, Auriga, Andromeda and Triangulum constellations on its sides, and on the South are the zodiac constellations of Taurus and Aries.
The mythology behind the Perseus constellation
The Perseus constellation represents the Greek demigod Perseus, son of Zeus and a mortal named Danae. He beheaded Medusa whose eyes could make any person turn to stone. He used the head of Medusa to kill Cetus, the sea monster.
It is said that he cut off the head of Medusa with the armour of Athena by using it as a mirror and at the same time cutting off her head.
Meteor showers near Perseus
Between July 21 and August 19, a meteor shower crosses the Algol star of the Perseus constellation. These are caused by the comet Swift Tuttle.
The Epsilon Perseidas take place in September.