Perseus Constellation Myths and Facts

Perseus: The Hero

Pronunciation: PER-see-us
Perseus, The Hero
Perseus as depicted by Johannes Hevelius in his Firmamentum Sobiescianum sive Uranographia (1687). Source image provided by — Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps Inc.
Perseus Constellation Profile
Abbreviation: Per Genitive: Persei
Origin: Ancient Location: Northern Hemisphere
Best View (North): Winter Best View (South):
Bordering Constellations: Camelopardalis, Cassiopeia, Andromeda, Triangulum, Aries, Taurus, Auriga

The Myth Behind the Constellation Perseus

Perseus was the son of Zeus and Danae.  As a baby, he and his mother were put in a chest and cast into the sea by Acrisius, Danae’s father.  An oracle had told Acrisiusa that a son of Danae would one day kill him.  Their chest came ashore on the island of Seriphos, where they were found by a fisherman named Dictys.  Perseus grew up being very protective of his mother, so when King Polydectyes started to take notice of the beautiful Danae, the king knew he would have to get the young man out of the way.  The king tricked Perseus into a quest to obtain the head of the Gorgon Medusa, a creature so hideous that any person to look directly upon it would turn to stone. Aided by gifts from the gods, including a shiny shield from Athena, Perseus found the location of Medusa’s lair and decapitated her with a single stroke of his sword by using the shield as a mirror to see only her reflection.  The winged-horse Pegasus sprang from Medusa’s blood and Perseus mounted him and headed home. On the way he came across the beautiful Andromeda, daughter of King Cepheus and Queen Cassiopeia.  She was chained to a stone on the shore of the Aethiopian coast; a sacrifice to appease the sea-monster Cetus, who had been wreaking havoc on the Aethiopian people.  One look and he was in love.  As the monster was about to claim his prize, Perseus whipped out the head of Medusa and turned Cetus into stone, saving Andromeda and the country.  Perseus and Andromeda wed.  Years later he accidently killed his grandfather, Acrisius, with an errant discus throw.  When Perseus died, he was placed amongst the stars.

Perseus Constellation Points of Interest

Interesting Objects in the Constellation Perseus
Name Messier NGC Type Visibility
M34 NGC 1039 Open Cluster Binoculars
Little Dumbbell Nebula M76 NGC 650/651 Planetary Nebula Small Telescope

Bright Stars in Perseus

These are the stars in Perseus with a minimum magnitude of 3.0.
Name Bayer Name Magnitude Color Luminosity Distance
Mirfak Alpha Persei 1.79  Yellow-White 5,521 suns 592 ly
Algol Beta Persei 2.09  Blue-White 124 suns 93 ly
Atik Zeta Persei 2.84  Blue-White 6,051 suns 982 ly
Adid Australis Epsilon Persei 2.90  Blue 6,953 suns 538 ly
Alphecher Gamma Persei 2.91  Yellow 409 suns 256 ly