Perseus Constellation and the Myth Behind It


When you look at the constellation Perseus, keep in mind the hero from Greek mythology that the constellation represents.

Perseus and his mother Danae were both placed inside of a large chest by his grandfather King Acrisius and then thrown into the ocean when Perseus was still a young child.

Acrisius was informed by the Oracle of Apollo that Danae’s child would one day be the one to take his life.

In order to stop this from happening, Danae was locked away and forbidden to get married. However, Zeus came to visit Danae while she was imprisoned in the tower by disguising himself as a golden ray of sunlight.

Acrisius exiled them after the birth of Perseus, who was the product of the union between Danae and Zeus. He did this because he remembered the prophecy.

After a long journey, the mother and child arrived in the land of Seriphus, where they were welcomed by King Polydectes.

After some time had passed, Polydectes developed feelings for Danae and desired to marry her. Due to the fact that Perseus was very protective of his mother, he attempted to keep these two people apart.

After some convincing, Danae came around to the idea, so Polydectes made it a requirement for everyone in the kingdom to bring them a gift.

Perseus, who was young, handsome, and strong, did not have any money, and because of this, King Polydectes was furious with him.

Perseus was given a mission that was impossible to complete because Polydectes had the misguided belief that he could get rid of Perseus.

Triumphs of Perseus

Perseus was informed by Monarch Polydectes that in order to make apologies, he would need to provide the king with the severed head of the gorgon Medusa.

The Medusa has the ability to transform anyone or anything into stone simply by looking at them.

Perseus was able to kill the Gorgon Medusa thanks to the divine favour that had been bestowed upon him. He did this by staring at the reflection of the Gorgon in his shield, which acted as a mirror, and then severing her head.

Pegasus, the winged horse, is claimed to have originated from the neck of Medusa, when she was put to death.

As Perseus made his way back to Seriphus carrying the head of Medusa in a bag, he witnessed Atlas attempting to balance the weight of the earth on his shoulders.

The burden that Atlas carried was lightened when Perseus transformed him into stone with the head of Medusa.

After then, Perseus saw the lovely Princess Andromeda waiting for the sea monster Cetus to decide what would happen to her.

With the head of the Medusa, Perseus successfully transforms Cetus into stone. Perseus sets Andromeda free, then brings her back to her family and finally marries her after they have a child together.

Following his return to the kingdom of Argos, where he was born, Perseus fulfils the prophecy of the Oracle by unintentionally causing the death of his grandpa, King Acrisius, by using 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)

Named Stars: 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.

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