Algol (β Per) is a bright eclipsing binary system located in the northern constellation of Perseus and one of the best-known variable stars in the sky. Often referred to as the "Demon Star", most of the time it shines at mag. +2.1, but every two days, 20 hours and 49 minutes it suddenly dips in brightness to mag. +3.4, remaining dim for about 10 hours before returning to its original state.

Why the change in brightness? The Algol system consists of at least three-stars (β Per A, β Per B and β Per C) with the orbital plane of Algol A and B directly in line with the Earth. The regular dips in brightness occur when the dimmer B star moves in front of and eclipses the brighter A star. There is also an extra dimension in that a secondary eclipse occurs when the brighter star occults the fainter secondary, resulting in a very small dip in brightness that can be detected with photo-electrical equipment.

Algol System (credit:- Dept. of Physics and Astronomy - Univ. of Tennessee at Knoxville)

Algol is located in Perseus among the stars of the northern Milky Way. It's positioned west of mag. +0.1 star Capella (α Aur) and southeast of the well known "W" of Cassiopeia. The finder chart below shows the position of Algol, along with magnitude data of some surrounding stars for comparative purposes.

Finder Chart for Algol (credit:- freestarcharts)

Finder Chart for Algol - pdf format (credit:- freestarcharts)

For those new to variable star observing, Algol is an excellent first choice target. It dims quite dramatically and the regular brightness changes are obvious to the naked eye. The table below contains date and time information of Algol's minima for April 2017 for various World time zones that cover most regions of Europe, America, China and Australia. For time zones not listed, local eclipse times can be calculated by adjusting the table to fit to the observers local time.

Algol Minima for April 2017

DateTime (UT-GMT)Time (BST-UK)Time (CEST-Europe)Time (EDT-N America)Time (PDT-N America)Time (CST-China)Time (AEDT-Australia)
Apr 0109:3310:3311:3305:3302:3317:3320:33
Apr 0406:2307:2308:2302:2323:23 (Apr 3)14:2317:23
Apr 0703:1204:1205:1223:12 (Apr 6)20:12 (Apr 6)11:1214:12
Apr 1000:0101:0102:0120:01 (Apr 9)17:01 (Apr 9)08:0111:01
Apr 1220:5021:5022:5016:5013:5004:50 (Apr 13)07:50 (Apr 13)
Apr 1517:3918:3919:3913:3910:3901:39 (Apr 16)04:39 (Apr 16)
Apr 1814:2915:2916:2910:2907:2922:2901:29 (Apr 19)
Apr 2111:1812:1813:1807:1804:1819:1822:18
Apr 2408:0709:0710:0704:0701:0716:0719:07
Apr 2704:5605:5606:5600:5621:56 (Apr 26)12:5615:56
Apr 3001:4602:4603:4621:46 (Apr 29)18:46 (Apr 29)09:4612:46

Sky Highlights - June 2017

Saturn
Saturn reaches opposition on June 15

The Planets
This Month's Guide

Algol Minima
Algol eclipse dates and times for June

Northern Hemisphere
Evening
Southwest:- Jupiter (mag. -2.2)
Southeast:- Saturn (mag. 0.0)
Midnight
West:- Jupiter
South:- Saturn
Morning
Southwest:- Saturn
Southeast:- Neptune (mag. +7.9)
East:- Venus (mag. -4.3), Uranus (mag. +5.9)

Southern Hemisphere
Evening
North:- Jupiter
East:- Saturn
Midnight
West:- Jupiter
North:- Saturn
Morning
West:- Saturn
Northeast:- Neptune
East:- Venus, Uranus, Mercury (first half of month (mag. -0.4 to -1.2)

Deep Sky

Small telescopes:-
Messier 13 - M13 - Great Hercules Globular Cluster
Messier 92 - M92 - Globular Cluster
Messier 11 - M11 - The Wild Duck Cluster (Open Cluster)
Messier 7 - M7 - The Ptolemy Cluster (Open Cluster)
Messier 6 - M6 - The Butterfly Cluster (Open Cluster)
Messier 4 - M4 - Globular Cluster
Messier 8 - M8 - Lagoon Nebula (Emission Nebula)
Messier 16 - M16 - Eagle Nebula (Emission Nebula with Open Cluster)
Messier 20 - M20 - Trifid Nebula (Emission and Reflection Nebula)

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