This is the Week to See Winking ‘Demon Star’ in Night SkySpace Tuesday, September 11th, 2012
(MSNBC) This week, skywatchers will have the chance to catch a winking “demon star” in the night sky.
The star, known as Algol, is located in the constellation of Perseus, the Hero, and has been known since ancient times as ” The Demon Star.”
Algol has a long and venerable history. Its name comes from the Arabic word al-ghul, which means “female demon.” But, contrary to popular belief, the name seems to have nothing to do with the star’s behavior, but rather, is due merely to Algol’s position marking the head of the Gorgon Medusa in ancient Greek mythology. According to the myth, gazing at Medusa could turn a person to stone.
Algol is one of the most famous variable stars in the sky, and was the first of its kind to be discovered. It is a perfect example of an “eclipsing binary” star, which brightens and dims almost as regularly as clockwork.
Best of all, Algol takes less than 10 hours to go from its normal brightness down to its minimum light and then back to normal, so the star’s whole performance can be watched in a single night when the schedule fits right.