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Perseus

Perseus constellation

Perseus. © 2003 Torsten Bronger.


Perseus (abbreviation: Per), the Hero and rescuer of Andromeda from the jaws of Cetus, is a large northern constellation, bordering on Aries to the north and Taurus to the south. The figure of Perseus is thought to hold the head of Medusa in his hand (the star Beta Per representing her evil eye).

 

As well as a number of interesting stars, most notably Algol, Perseus boasts the Little Dumbbell Nebula, the Double Cluster, and another large, bright open cluster, M34 (NGC 1039), which can be seen with the naked eye on a dark night and can be resolved by a small telescope even at low power (magnitude 5.5; diameter 35'; distance 1,400 light-years; R.A. 02h 42.0m, Dec. +42° 47'). See below for details of the constellation's brightest stars.

 


Perseids

 

Perseids
The radiants of the Perseids, shown in red.

 

The Perseids are a major annual meteor shower visible for a week or so before and after peaking on August 12 each year, the date on which Earth crosses the orbit. The maximum hourly rate is about 70 meteors. They appear to radiate from the constellation Perseus, from which they take their name. This shower is associated with Comet Swift-Tuttle (discovered in 1862, reappeared in 1992) and consists of debris left by the comet along its orbit. Typical velocity of a Perseid meteor is about 68 kilometers (42 miles) per second.

 


Perseus Arm

The Perseus Arm is one of the spiral arms of our Galaxy, the nearest part of which lies in the direction of Perseus at a distance of about 7,000 light-years. The Perseus Arm winds around to the other side of the Galaxy.

 


Perseus Cluster

 

Perseus Cluster (Abell 426)
Perseus Cluster. Wendelstein Observatory.

 

The Perseus Cluster (Abell 426) is a diffuse, irregular cluster of galaxies, containing about 500 members and located about 250 million light-years away, that is dominated by and centered on the Seyfert galaxy NGC 1275 associated with the radio source Perseus A. The mass of cluster has been estimated at 200 trillion solar masses.

 


Perseus-Pisces Supercluster

The Perseus-Pisces Supercluster is one of the largest known structures in the universe. Even at a distance of 250 million light-years, this chain of galaxy clusters extends more than 40° across the northern winter sky.

 


Stars in Perseus brighter than magnitude 4.0
Star Visual mag. Abs. mag. Spectral type Distance (lt-yr) R.A. (h m s) Dec. (° ' ")
Alpha (Mirfak) 1.79 -4.51 F5Ib 592 03 24 19 +49 51 40
Beta (Algol) 2.09v -0.18 B8V 93 03 08 10 +40 57 21
Zeta 2.84 -4.56 B1Ib 982 03 54 08 +31 53 01
Epsilon 2.90 -3.10 B0.5V+A2V 538 03 57 51 +40 00 37
Gamma 2.91 -1.51 G8III+A2V 256 03 04 48 +53 30 23
Delta 3.01 -3.04 B5III 528 03 42 55 +47 47 15
Rho (Gorgonea Terti) 3.32v -1.68 M3III 325 03 05 11 +38 50 25
Eta (Miram) 3.77 -4.29 K3Ib 1,330 02 50 42 +55 53 44
Nu 3.77 -2.39 F5II 557 03 45 12 +42 34 43
Kappa (Misam) 3.79 1.10 K0III 112 03 09 30 +44 51 27
Omicron (Atik) 3.84 -4.44 B1III 1,480 03 44 19 +32 17 18
Tau (Kerb) 3.93 -0.48 G4II+A4VI 248 02 54 15 +52 45 45
Xi (Menkib) 3.98 -4.70 O7Iae 1,770 03 58 58 +35 47 28

 


Constellations
Andromeda | Antlia | Apus | Aquarius | Aquila | Ara | Aries | Auriga | Bootes | Caelum | Camelopardalis | Cancer | Canes Venatici | Canis Major | Canis Minor | Capricornus | Carina | Cassiopeia | Centaurus | Cepheus | Cetus | Chamaeleon | Circinus | Columba | Coma Berenices | Corona Austrina | Corona Borealis | Corvus | Crater | Crux | Cygnus | Delphinus | Dorado | Draco | Equuleus | Eridanus | Fornax | Gemini | Grus | Hercules | Horologium | Hydra | Hydrus | Indus | Lacerta | Leo | Leo Minor | Lepus | Libra | Lupus | Lynx | Lyra | Mensa | Microscopium | Monoceros | Musca | Norma | Octans | Ophiuchus | Orion | Pavo | Pegasus | Perseus | Phoenix | Pictor | Pisces | Piscis Austrinus | Puppis | Pyxis | Reticulum | Sagitta | Sagittarius | Scorpius | Sculptor | Scutum | Serpens | Sextans | Taurus | Telescopium | Triangulum | Triangulum Australe | Tucana | Ursa Major | Ursa Minor | Vela | Virgo | Volans | Vulpecula