The Champion

Fully Visible:31°S – 90°N

In Greek mythology, King Cepheus and Queen Cassiopeia of Æthiopia (what we call the Upper Nile region) had a daughter named Andromeda. Cassiopeia boasted that she and her daughter was more beautiful than the Nereids, the sea nymphs who often accompanied Poseiden, god of the seas. As punishment, Poseiden sent a sea monster, Cetus, to ravage the coast of Æthopia. In desperation, Cepheus consulted an oracle who informed him that to appease Poseiden, Cepheus must sacrifice his daughter Andromeda to the sea monster. Thus, Andromeda was stripped naked and chained to the rocks on the coast of the sea. Fortunately for her, Perseus was passing by, having just slain the Gorgon, Medusa. He killed the sea monster and set Andromeda free, claiming her as his bride.

Perseus was a demi-god, son of Zeus and the mortal Danaë. He slew Medusa, the only mortal Gorgon, and cut off her head. (Pegasus sprang from the blood of Medusa.) After using the fearsome object in several adventures (including the saving of Andromeda), he gave the head to the goddess Athena who affixed it to her shield.

He was also the legendary founder of the Greek state of Mycenae which figures prominently in the tales of the Trojan War. In addition, the classical hero Heracles (Hercules to the Romans) was both the great-grandson and half-brother of Perseus!

The constellation of Perseus

Notable Features

Visible Named Stars
α Per Mirfak This star sometimes appears as Algenib (from the Arabic al‑janb meaning 'the side') in older star atlases and catalogues.
β Per Algol Algol means 'the demon's head' and represents the head of the Medusa. It sometimes appears as Gorgona or Gorgonea Prima (from the Latin gorgona meaning 'the monster') in older star atlases and catalogues. It is the prototype Algol eclipsing binary variable star and its varying magnitude is easily observable with the naked eye.
η Per Miram This K-type bright giant shines at fourth magnitude.
ξ Per Menkib This traditional name was made official by the IAU in 2016.
κ Per Misam This fourth-magnitude star is actually a triple, consisting of a spectroscopic binary plus another star.
ο Per Atik This name is also traditionally ascribed to ζ Per.
Other Interesting Stars
HAT‑P‑15 Berehinya This twelfth-magnitude star is known to have at least one exoplanet. It is located in the region near ε Per.
HAT‑P‑29 Muspelheim Found between θ Per and φ Per, this twelfth-magnitude star is known to have at least one exoplanet.
Deep Sky Objects
M34 Optical aids are necessary in order to observe this open star cluster.
M76 Butterfly Nebula, Little Dumbbell Nebula This planetary nebula may be the faintest and most difficult object in Messier's list to observe.
C14 Double Cluster Situated near the star χ Per, this object is actually two open star clusters and a beautiful site through binoculers. The double cluster is also popularly known as h and χ Persei and appears in the New General Catalogue as NGC 869 and NGC 884.
C24 Perseus A This object, a Seyfert galaxy, is situated near the centre of the Perseus Cluster of galaxies. A medium-size telescope is necessary to observe it. It is also catalogued as NGC 1275.
Cr 39 α Persei Cluster The star α Per is the brightest member of this open cluster of stars.
Meteor Shower Radiants
007 PER Perseids Confusingly, the radiant for the Perseid meteor shower lies just inside the border of the neighbouring constellation Cassiopeia.
172 ZPE ζ Perseids This daytime radio shower is active from the end of May through June, with a peak occurring around 9 June.
208 SPE September ε Perseids Active for much of September, this shower peaks around the ninth of the month. This is usually a minor shower but sometimes has enhanced activity. Its parent body is unknown.