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Constellation Family Groups: Perseus

By Yona Williams    12/14/07

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The Perseus family has nine constellations within this group – Cassiopeia, Andromeda, Pegasus, Cetus, Auriga, Perseus, Cepheus, Lacerta, and Triangulum. The northern constellation of Perseus is named after the Greek hero of the same name, who is best known for slaying the monster called Medusa (whose head was full of snakes). As both a modern constellation and observation of Ptolemy, it also contains the famous variable star called Algol. The constellation is also associated with its positioning of the radiant of the annual Perseids meteor shower.

Cassiopeia

Cassiopeia was named after a Greek myth – highlighting the memory of a vain queen who was known for bragging about her beauty that she felt no one could compare to. This constellation is one of the 88 modern star patterns, as well as one of the 48 listed by Ptolemy. When taking a look at this grouping, you will find that it is roughly shaped like a "W."

Gamma Cassiopeiae

At the center point of the "W," you will encounter Gamma Cassiopeiae, which is also referred to as "Navi" – connected to an Apollo One commander named Gus Grissom. Interestingly, this naming was initially a joke that Grissom shared with others. He added three names to the NASA star charts that paid homage to himself and his fellow crewmembers. The "Navi" is in reference to Grissom's middle name, which was Ivan – Navi spelled backwards.

Andromeda

Andromeda is much more than a popular television show – it is a constellation that was named after a princess that played a role within Greek mythology. Her name means "guardian of the men," and is most notable for containing the Andromeda Galaxy. Close by – Pegasus is found. Sometimes, the English calls this constellation "The Chained Maiden".

When peering at this formation – those who take into account of the fainter stars can make out the form of a stick figure woman. She is seen wearing a belt, where one of her arms has something long connected to it. Some believe that this shape resembles a woman with a sword in her hand.

When pairing this constellation with other stars in the zodiac sign of Aries (as well as parts of Pisces and Pleiades) – the origin of the myth of the girdle of Hippolyte is deciphered. In the end – part of the Twelve Labours of Herakles is located. When looking at the stars from a different direction, it would also appear that a woman figure is seem – however – it looks as if she is attached to a chain.

Pegasus

Pegasus is the elegant winged horse that has captured the hearts of people of all ages. In the north, this constellation is one of the 88 modern constellations and was also part of the original Ptolemy 48. Mythology states that Pegasus was born from the blood of Medusa when Perseus killed her. The appearance of the winged horse is similar to that of a horse grazing in a field. A large square section stands for its body. Since there are four bright stars in the square – it is thought that they play a role in the myth of Mares of Diomedes and other constellations.

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