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Learn the Constellations
The First Light Astronomy Kit from David Chandler Company
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The American Association of Amateur Astronomers

Learn the Constellations
The First Light Astronomy Kit from David Chandler Company

 Buy it Now or Find Out More

The Constellation Perseus - The Champion

The constellations Andromeda and Perseus, along with Pegasus, Casseopiea and Cepheus, are richly intertwined in mythology, but are vastly divergent in the objects they present to amateur astronomers. While Perseus lies along the Milky Way, and offers many sparkling open clusters and diffuse nebulae, Andromeda lies away from our galaxy's plane, and lets us see the inhabitants of intergalactic space. Some of the finest objects of their respective classes reside in these constellations, and it is well worth braving cold weather to observe them.

M-34 - This is a fine open cluster, easily seen in binoculars as somewhat box shaped, with many bright stars resolved. Through a telescope, it is almost 40' in diameter, made up of primarily bright and some relatively faint stars, and has a coarse appearance.

M-76 - The Little Dumbell planetary nebula resembles M-27 as seen though a small telescope. It is bi-lobed, with the southern lobe the brighter of the two, and the northern being somewhat rectangular. Some dark lanes or patches are seen with averted vision. This object holds up to magnification well.

NGC 869 & 884 - The Double Cluster. This is one of the finest sights in the sky. These two open clusters are both large and bright, and fall in the same low power field of view. NGC 869 is the brighter and more concentrated of the two, and is dominated by two bright orange stars near its center. NGC 884 is slightly larger, and has many more orange-red stars. Both clusters contain over 100 stars each.

Alpha Persei Group - When you look at Alpha Per, it is easy to see granulation or condensation of the Milky Way in its region. Try looking at this area with binoculars, and you will be stunned by the wealth of stars in this area. This is actually a large open cluster having the designation Melotte 20, and contains over 100 stars. Give this area a peek.

Eta Persei - This double star is an easy split, and shows a pretty yellow-gold primary and a fainter blue companion.

Epsilon Persei - A difficult split, but a fine yellow-white and blue double star.

Algol (Beta Persei) - This famous variable star dips almost 1.5 magnitudes every 2.86 days. Its variability is due to a faint star eclipsing a brighter star. The eclipses last about 10 hours, so a significant brightening or dimming can easily be observed in one night. Its minima are listed in Sky and Telescope magazine every month, so if you haven't observed a variable star yet, give this one a try.

Messier Objects in Perseus











Open Cluster

2h 42.0

42d 47






Planetary Nebula

1h 42.4

51d 34


163" X 107"


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