NGC 1275, also known as Perseus A, is a Seyfert galaxy in the constellation Perseus. It's lies at the centre of the Perseus cluster of galaxies (Abell 426) and is the group's dominant member. At 230 million light-years distant, it's way beyond the Local Group but can be spotted in medium size backyard scopes under dark skies and good seeing conditions. The galaxy shines at apparent mag. +11.7.

NGC 1275 is a strong radio and X-ray source that produces peculiar emission lines in its nucleus. It's listed as entry 3C 84 in the 3rd Cambridge Catalogue of Radio Sources and Carl Seyfert include it in his original list of active galaxies. NGC 1275 is actually a complex system consisting of a main galaxy and a high velocity system (HVS). Tidal interactions between the two objects result in large amounts of dust disruption, gas stripping and star formation. In addition, tidal forces send existing gas and dust swirling into the supermassive black hole at centre of the main galaxy, resulting in the powerful X-ray and radio wave emissions.

NGC 1275 was discovered by William Herschel on October 17, 1786.

NGC 1275 (credit:- NASA, ESA, and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA))

Finder Chart for NGC 1275 (credit:- freestarcharts)

Finder Chart for NGC 1275 - pdf format (credit:- freestarcharts)

The galaxy is positioned towards the centre of Perseus. It's located 2 degrees east and half a degree north of famous variable star Algol (β Per). Also know as the "Demon Star", Algol is an eclipsing binary that usually shines at mag. +2.1, but every two days, 20 hours and 49 minutes it dips suddenly in brightness to mag. +3.4. It remains dim for about 10 hours, before returning to its original state.

A 200mm (8-inch) scope on a good night, shows NGC 1275 as a tiny grainy spot of weak light. Although it covers some 2.3 x 1.7 arc minutes, visually it appears much smaller at about 45 arc seconds. A 350mm (14-inch) instrument reveals a conspicuous diffuse oval shape with a bright centre. Astronomers with very large scopes can explore the Abell group in detail. Other members visible include NGC 1267, NGC 1270, NGC 1272, NGC 1273, NGC 1274, NGC 1278, NGC 1281 and IC 1907.

NGC 1275 and the Perseus cluster are best seen from northern latitudes during the months of November, December and January. It's number 24 in the Caldwell catalogue.

NGC 1275 Data Table

NGC1275
NamePerseus A
Caldwell24
Object TypeSeyfert Galaxy
ConstellationPerseus
Distance (light-years)230 Million
Apparent Mag.+11.7
RA (J2000)03h 19m 48s
DEC (J2000)+41d 30m 42s
Apparent Size (arc mins)2.3 x 1.7
Radius (light-years)75,000
Number of Stars1 Trillion
Notable FeatureStrong source of X-ray and radio waves

Sky Highlights - February 2017

Comets
Comet Encke (2P/Encke) now visible in the western sky during evening twilight
Now is the last good chance to see comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova before it dramatically fades

Conjunction
Mars passes less than 1 degree north of Uranus on February 27th

Minor Planet
Vesta now visible with binoculars and small telescopes.

The Planets
This Month's Guide

Algol Minima
Algol eclipse dates and times for February 2017

Northern Hemisphere
Evening
Southwest:- Venus (mag. -4.8), Mars (mag. +1.1 to +1.3), Uranus (mag. +5.9)
Midnight
East:- Jupiter (mag. -2.1 to -2.3)
Morning
South:- Jupiter
Southeast:- Saturn (mag. +0.6)

Southern Hemisphere
Evening
West:- Venus, Mars, Uranus
Midnight
East:- Jupiter
Morning
North:- Jupiter
East:- Saturn, Mercury (mag. -0.2 - first half of month)

Deep Sky
Naked eye / binoculars:-
Messier 45 - M45 - The Pleiades (Open Cluster)
The Hyades - Open Cluster
Messier 44 - M44 - The Praesepe (Open Cluster)
Messier 35 - M35 - Open Cluster
Messier 42 - M42 - The Great Orion Nebula (Emission/Reflection)

Small telescopes:-
Messier 36 - M36 - Open Cluster
Messier 37 - M37 - Open Cluster
Messier 38 - M38 - Open Cluster

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