Name a Star in the Cancer Constellation
Modified: July 1, 2023 Author: International Star Registry
Cancer is represented in the heavens as a crab situated between Leo on the east and Gemini on the west. It is best viewed in the early spring near the celestial equator. Cancer is the faintest constellation in the entire zodiac, its brightest star is only of the fourth magnitude. M-44 or “the Bee Hive Cluster” can be seen with binoculars. It is bordered by the constellations Canis Minor, Gemini, Hydra, Leo, Leo Minor, and Lynx.
In the zodiacs of Esne and Dendera, and in most of the astrological remnants of ancient Egypt, a scarab or beetle symbolizes Cancer. In Sir William Jones’s Oriental Zodiac, and in some others found in India, we meet with the figure of a crab. As the Hindus probably derived their knowledge of the stars from the Chaldeans, it is supposed that the crab sign is more ancient than the beetle. The sign of Cancer usually is assigned to the tribe of Reuben in Jewish astrological lore. In some eastern representations of this sign, two animals which look like jack-asses are found. Because the Chaldaic name for the ass may be translated “muddiness,” it is supposed to allude to the discoloring of the Nile, since that river rose when the sun entered Cancer. In copying this sign, the Greeks also symbolized it with two jack-asses because these animals assisted Zeus in his victory over the giants.
Mythological stories give different accounts of the origin of this constellation. The prevailing opinion is that while Hercules was engaged in his famous contest with the dreadful Hydra, Juno, envious of the fame of his achievements, sent a sea-crab to nip, bite and annoy the hero. Though the crab was soon crushed underfoot by Hercules, the goddess placed it among the constellations in reward for its services. Like other zodiac constellations, Cancer was catalogued by the Greek astronomer Ptolemy in the 2nd century.
Right Ascension: 08:38
Diameter (°): 17
Area (square °): 506
Opposition: Jan 27
Size Rank: 31st
Brightness Rank: 56th
Major stars in Cancer
Acubens – α Cancri (Alpha Cancri)
Al Tarf – β Cancri (Beta Cancri)
Asellus Australis – δ Cancri (Delta Cancri)
Asellus Borealis – γ Cancri (Gamma Cancri)
Tegmine – ζ Cancri (Zeta Cancri)
λ Cancri (Lambda Cancri)
ξ Cancri (Xi Cancri)
Deep Sky Objects in Cancer
Messier 44 (Beehive Cluster, Praesepe, M44, NGC 2632, Cr 189)
Messier 67 (M67, NGC 2682)
NGC 2535 & NGC 2536
NGC 2608 (Arp 12)
NGC 2775 (Caldwell 48)
Mythology of the Constellation Cancer
In another legend, Cancer is associated with the second great feat of Hercules. In the story of the “Twelve Labours of Hercules”. Cancer the Crab was sent by Hera rather than Juno to fight alongside the sea monster Hydra. Hercules had been sent to vanquish the Lernaean Hydra who resided at the entrance to the underworld. The monster Hydra had been raised by Hera for the purpose of slaying Hercules. The fearsome, multi-headed beast was so noxious that even the scent of it was deadly. To help defeat Hydra, Hercules enlisted the help of his nephew Iolaus to cauterize each head so it would not regenerate in the fight. The goddess Hera was not pleased to see the pair overcoming murderous sea monster so as a distraction she also sent the giant crab who attacked the Hero. Hercules made short work of the crab and slayed both Hydra and Cancer. Heartbroken at the loss of the two, Hera put both Hydra and Cancer in the stars.
Sun Enters: June 22
Sun Leaves: July 22
Positives: Protective, sensitive, strong maternal/paternal instinct, cautious, tenacious, resourceful, greatly imaginative
Negatives: Hyper-protective, mean-tempered, unforgiving, hidden personal weaknesses, easily flattered, self-pitying, petulant
As a Child: Repentant, dolly-loving
Career: Nurse, Doctor
Q. What is Cancer?
A. The modern symbol for Cancer represents the pincers of a crab, but Cancer has been represented as many types of creatures, usually those living in the water, and always those with an exoskeleton.
Q. What are some facts about Cancer?
A. Cancer is a medium-sized constellation that is bordered by Gemini to the west, Lynx to the north, Leo Minor to the northeast, Leo to the east, Hydra to the south, and Canis Minor to the southwest.
Q. When and where is Cancer most visible?
A. Cancer constellation is most visible in the late winter/early spring in the Northern Hemisphere