Perseus - Pisces - Piscis Austrinus


Another superb group for the binocular owner, and far more interesting than could be guessed at by the eye alone, especially in its Northwestern border with Cygnus. A common test of naked-eye acuity, or the clearness and darkness of the sky (or both) is to see how many stars you can make out within the square.

Groups of stars

1. Wide group of the red stars 63, 72 and 73, plus 64 and 67.

2. 78 (5.0) has a fine region to the S.

3. 32 and η . Between these there lies an amorphous group of 12 stars.

4. Arc of eight stars between φ and γ.

5. The region of υ (4.6) is worth perusal with small glasses.

6. An interesting area around 2 (4.8) and 12 (5.5).

7. The telescopic pair Σ2841 is one of a large, diverse group.

8. ε . Note the tiny inverted V to the NW that points to a 6m star.

9. Fine, singular group of coloured stars - 55, 57, 58 and 59. The second of these is slightly variable, and is also known as GZ Peg.

10. Smaller group of 34, 35 and 37. Incidentally, all of these are telescopic double stars.

Wide doubles

π. Forms a pretty pair with 27.

61. A 6.3m star with a 7m companion. Making an isosceles with 60 and 61 is another double, but closer and fainter.

40 and 41. A wide, sixth-magnitude pair.

Close doubles

3. An easy coloured pair, white and blue, 39" apart.

P.271. An eighth-mag equal pair, separated by 141 seconds.

P.272. Two 7m stars 131" apart.

P.274. Another seventh-magnitude pair, slightly wider at 185".

P.275. Inside the square of Pegasus, this is a harder object of 7.9 and 8.4, and separated by 63".

Variable stars

TW (7.0-9.2) A chart is supplied for this red variable; a star with a persistent secondary period (i.e., the mean magnitude itself varies over a long period of time).

TX (7.7-9.0) A star of similar type, with an 8.7m companion. It makes a long triangle with a 7.0 and 8.7, the latter to the N. Directly E of these is a line of three stars; 6.6, 7.8 and 9.3.

AG (6.0-9.0) This star erupted in the late 19th century, and is nowadays content to fluctuate between 8th - 9th mag, but needs watching just in case. It is one of a small cross whose other stars are 7.6, 8.0 and 8.5.

GO (7.1-7.8) An easy star to find and estimate, since there is a small vertical line of three (7.1, 8.1 and 8.8) closely E.

Clusters and Nebulae

M.15(NGC 7078). A brilliant globular cluster. In 20x70s, this is my favourite among these objects. Note a strange little Y to the South.


After Cygnus, this is probably the finest group in the Northern sky for owners of binoculars, of whatever size. Its clusters are especially notable, several being in fact visible with the eye alone. Brilliant sweeping along the borders with Camelopardus and Cassiopeia.

Groups of stars

1. α (1.8). Lies in a glorious low-power field (see below).

2. Fine large group of λ , μ , 48 and b. Many fainter stars and little gleams in this area.

3. 43 (5.5). Beautiful sweeping around this star.

4. Sweep the triangle bordered by θ , ι and κ.

5. 20 (5.3). Fine sweeping for small bins around this area.

6. Small, rather square group closely E. of ε (3.0)

Wide doubles

29 and 31. A superb wide pair near Mirfak.

σ . A lovely wide triple, the other stars being 5.5 and 6.0m.

o. A star with a faint companion SE.

49. Forms a wide threesome with 50 and a third star which is actually a telescopic pair.

ε and ν .Making an equilateral with these is a 6m star with a wide, equal pair lying to the SE. A nice object for small glasses.

55 and 56. Another wide pair in a fine field.

Close doubles

η .This is said to be red and blue. The companion is meant to be 8m, but it always looks at least 9m to me. A very hard one, this, even for small telescopes!

OΣΣ 44. A fine, both-white pair 58" apart.

OΣΣ 47. These are 75" apart, with a third faint star forming a triple.

57. A lovely yellow and purple pair. Mags 5 and 6, distance 114".

Variable stars

T (8.3-9.3) A red star in a crowded field. Note a beautiful clustering nearby.

X (6.0-6.6) A hot white variable, made up of the main star plus an exotic neutron star. X Per is a strong emitter of x-rays because of this, and is readily seen in the smallest glasses. It makes an equilateral with ζ and a 6.1m star, with another of 6.6 closely NW of zeta.

TT (7.6-9.0) This red star has a wide pair of 7.6 and 8.3 NW which are useful as comparisons.

XX (7.5-8.8) Another red variable, for which you can use two stars of 7.6 and 8.0, Northeast of the nearby 4 Persei. This and the preceding star lie close to a well-known red Long-Period Variable, U Persei, which reaches the 8th magnitude at maximum.

AD (7.7-8.4) Worth finding for its colour and also the fact that it is a member of the double cluster, as are several other red variables in the area, such as SU, PR and KK below.

IZ (7.7-8.9) An eclipser between two phi's; phi Per and phi Cas. Difficult because of a close, faint companion.

KK (6.6-7.6) I watched this star for about two years in the mid-seventies without seeing it move very much from 7.9m. Similar behaviour is typical of many small-amplitude red variables. In the double cluster, so even if you have scant luck with its variations, you will at least get a good view of the cluster!

Clusters and Nebulae

NGC 869/864. The magnificent double cluster, one of the most beautiful sights in the whole Northern skies. Use as large a pair of bins as you can get hold of and you will not be disappointed. Note the presence of several red stars. Very easy with the naked eye as a brightening in the Milky Way.

M34(NGC 1039). Another splendid cluster. 15 stars are seen in 10x80's, and I note that it lies in a long, irregular pentagon. Easy in 6x30 as well.

NGC 1528. A fine sight in average binoculars, and partially resolved in large ones.

Mel 20. A brilliant group of bright stars around Mirfak. (Mel is short for Melotte - Messier and the Herschels didn't bag them all!)

Cr 29. Named by another cluster specialist, Collinder, this is a fine group of faint stars near the double cluster.

NGC 1245. With 10x or 16x50, you will see this as a misty spot.

NGC 1342. A fine cluster, which binoculars will partially resolve



A faint, dull group to the eye, but with some fine fields and pairs.

Groups of stars

1. 82 (5.0) lies in a rich region.

2. Small isolated diamond of 35, 36, 38 and 41.

3. Beautiful bright Y composed of ψ1,2,3 and χ .

4. The circlet. An asterism formed by γ, θ, ι, λ, κ, 7 and TX, the last of these a deep red star.

5. The group formed by 27, 29, 30 and 33. The latter two are red stars.

6. Small triangle of 73, 77 and 80. Many fainter stars around here.

7. ξ (4.8). Note a bright group W of this.

8. Small, bright assemblage including 1, 2 and 3. A close pair lies NE of the latter.

9. 23h 15m, -02. Small faint Y, with a tiny line of three SW.

Wide doubles

τ . Two distant companions lie to the SW.

54 and 55. A conspicuous wide pair in a fine field.

χ Note a wide double of 7.0 and 7.2 to the SW.

ρ and 94. A notable low-power pair.

103 and 105. A similar but slightly fainter pair near the dim galaxy M.74.

κ In the circlet, this has an orange attendant of 6.4m.

Close doubles

ψ1. A fine, roughly equal pair of the 5th magnitude. Dist. 30".

77. This star has a 7m comes 33" away.

ζ . A close (24") double of yellow and purple.

OΣΣ 19. The distance here is 68" and the mags. are both 7.

Variable stars

Z (7.0-7.9) The little Y of 7.5, 7.8, 7.9 and 8.5 closely NW of this red variable make good comparisons.

RT (7.6-9.0). A fainter star in the same field. To the south are two stars of 7.5 and 7.9, while an equal distance N. is a faint wide pair of 8.8 and 9.1.

TX (5.0-6.0) The stars in the circlet can be used on this deep red star. 22 Psc (5.8) is useful when TX is faint.


A compact group whose leader, Fomalhaut, can become quite bright from Europe and the southern parts of Britain. The rest of the constellation, however, needs altitude to reveal the numerous fine binocular double stars here.

Groups of stars

1. Bright, singular group that includes the 5m stars μ and τ.

2. λ (5.4). Fine sweeping north, and towards eta (5.4).

3. Large bright arc extending from ε to β .

4. δ . Lies in a fine field, with stars of assorted brightnesses.

Wide doubles

μ This has a companion of 6.4, also tau nearby.

δ . A degree north is an orange pair of 6.1 and 6.5.

Close doubles

h5356. A fine, easy pair of mags. 6 and 7 that are 85" apart.

P.211. Tucked away in the South of the group is this rather faint pair of magnitudes 7 and 8. Distance is 78".

P.212. A bright (6.3m) star with a 9m neighbour 235" away. Owners of powerful bins may also be able to divide this star into 9.1 and 9.3m stars 78" apart.

P.214. A much easier object, both yellow and 7th-mag. Distance 142".

P.216. Easy to find near β , this is a good star for average glasses. Mags are 5.7 and 7.3, 91" apart. Both stars are orange.

P.217. An unequal pair of 7.4 and 8.8, distant by 108". It is the southern member of a line of three bright stars. Note the red tint of the Northern one.

Variable stars

V (7.7-9.1) This lies agonisingly close to Fomalhaut. SW of V, and in line with it, are two stars of 8.8 and 9.1, with another of 8.4 S. of the brighter of these. Another star NW of the variable is of magnitude 7.6.