Cancer the Crab  –  Constellation of the Zodiac

Cancer the Crab – Constellation of the Zodiac

We begin with the mythology that
surrounds Cancer the Crab. Out of all the zodiacal constellations that exist,
Cancer really is one of the most inconspicuous. It’s stars are pretty
faint and unless you live in an area where there’s very little light
pollution, Cancer can definitely be a challenge to find. For me I was able to
figure out where this constellation was by finding Gemini, which has two really
bright stars as an easy pattern, and by finding Leo, which also has a
very distinctive pattern. Using a star chart, I realized that Cancer sat
right in the middle of these two. I was able to figure out it was
Cancer based upon this star cluster that sits right in the middle of the
constellation. It’s really beautiful to look at if you’re able to magnify it
through binoculars or a telescope. When I first found this cluster I wanted
to know more about it and I was really pleased to find a rich history that
surrounds a celestial object. We’ll talk about that a little bit later in the
video. Just remember a theme throughout this video will be that if
you can find Gemini, and if you can find Leo, you should be able to figure out
where Cancer is, because it’s right in between them. The key is also making
sure you’re away from light pollution and you have a very, very dark sky. In
terms of how Cancer got its name there is some debate out there is – how the
name originated. Some believe that in this region of the sky, it was named for
the crab because at one time the Sun was moving through cancer. Then it
stopped moving northward and then started to move south. This backward
motion of the Sun was much like a crab being able to walk backwards. This
could have been one of the reasons this area of the sky was named after a crab.
But, the most famous legend that comes to mind when talking about Cancer is the
Legend of Hercules, or Heracles in the Roman version. A crab was sent by
Hera, the ever jealous God, who is always challenging Hercules. She sent a crab to
distract him while he was fighting the many headed monster known as Hydra.
Cancer only really nicked Hercules heel and then he was crushed. So, Hera placed
the crab up in the sky to honor his bravery. Over time there have been
different stories, but this is out of all the research I’ve done this is the main
one that keeps popping up everywhere. In other legends, Cancer has been
depicted in many different ways. For example, some cultures like the Greeks
saw a crab. The Egyptians identified Cancer as a scarab beetle. The
Babylonians saw the crab, and also a snapping turtle in other regions of
Babylonia. There’s another Latin translation that depicts cancer as a
crayfish. Even in the early 17th century, cancer was identified as a
lobster as to what you can see here. What is interesting is that even though the
creatures buried throughout time and cultures, Cancer has always been depicted
as an animal that has a hard exoskeleton and lives in water. That
really is an amazing thing that many different cultures saw something
different, but similar. As a reminder, Cancer is sandwiched in between two very
prominent constellations: Leo and Gemini. Cancer really is that transition
from going into the winter constellations and moving into the
spring constellations. So you’re gonna be able to see it towards the end
of winter depending on where you are on the Earth- that also has something to do
with it. But you can see it in late February, if you stay out late
into, March, April, and May. I’m recording this now it’s the month of
July and I can still see cancer, but I also live in Hawaii and about 20 degrees
latitude. So, that allows me to see more constellations for a longer period of
time. I’d like to say this is an easy constellation to find, but it is a little
challenging because the stars in it are so faint. If you live in a place with
lots of light pollution, chances are you may not be able to identify this. Its
stars are only that about 4th magnitude but you really want to be able to look
for this star cluster which I will teach you about, coming up. So without further
ado let’s get into the pattern of what Cancer looks like. So here is a picture
of Cancer. There are some other constellations in here, but only
partial constellations. As you look at this photograph, I want you to start
observing what is it that stands out to you, what draws your eye
when you look at this picture. Do you see bright stars? Do you see any
clusters of stars? Hopefully- and again I always encourage you if you want more
time to look at this it’s good you can always hit pause and try to figure out
what you’re looking at- as we move on this is where Cancer is located. That’s
its pattern. If we move back to this picture I’m hoping that this star
cluster is what stood out to you. That cluster is known as the
Beehive Cluster, that’s one of its many names, it’s also Messier object 44.
We’ll go into detail about that in a little bit. But hopefully you were able
to see this star cluster when I originally pointed out the constellation.
If you also notice these bright stars that’s excellent. These are the heads of
Gemini we have Pollux and Castor. If you notice this star right here, this is
Procyon one of the bright stars of Canis Minor the Small Dog. It’s good to kind of realize what else we’re looking here. As I
will constantly remind you Cancer is situated between Gemini and Leo. Leo’s
not part of this picture, but here is the basic shape. To me I kind of see an
upside down y and yes you will have to use some imagination as to, “oh my
goodness what how did people see this as a crab”. Well you know you have to be
creative and use your imagination, but one thing I will point out to you is
that I want you to notice how its situated. You always notice that there’s
a claw down here and cancer is facing Leo. So if you would come back here this
would be a claw possibly, this could be a claw, maybe this represents the legs? I
say that with a question mark, because again I don’t really see a crab here. But
not all constellation patterns really match up with what they’re supposed to
look like. Here’s another image of what Cancer the
Crab looks like. Notice the upside down Y shape. Then I like you also to notice
Gemini right here, where you can see Pollux and Castor. Then right down
here you have Canis Minor which has another bright star called Procyon.
Of course notice that Cancer is situated between Gemini and Leo. What
I want you to look for in the next picture are some of these bright stars. Then you’re going to look for M44, the Beehive cluster to see if you
can find it. So remember from the last picture- I’m
hoping that you find Pollux and Castor the two bright stars of Gemini. Then
Procyon which is the bright star in Canis Minor. if you can find those three
stars move to the left side of the screen. Notice if who you can find
the Beehive cluster. Keep in mind that it does take time to get yourself use to
the patterns, being able to find them, and remembering what they are. So let’s
take a look at our answer here you have Gemini, Pollux, and Castor. Canis Minor is right down here with a bright
star Procyon. You can find these three- hopefully you were able to find the
Beehive Cluster which is in the constellation of Cancer. Now that I’ve
taught you the pattern of Cancer, let’s go through and look at some of the stars.
If we take a look at this depiction of Cancer, notice how the stars are not as
bright as some of its next-door neighbors. What you want to start to
notice is the two bright stars of Gemini then the bright star in Canis Minor.
If you can find these three stars- all you have to know is that Cancer sits
right next to it. So here is our picture of cancer, again, look towards the
center of the photo and you should see the bright star cluster called MM44.
From there try to find the upside-down Y shape. You’ll also probably notice Castor
and Pollux the bright stars of Gemini. And just a part of the bright star
called Procyon in Canis Minor. Here’s the shape. Let’s look at what the names
of some of these stars are. So we have Acubens which is Arabic for claws. This
star is 174 light-years away. Next we have Al Tarf,
again, another Arabic name which means for the end. This star is 290 light-years
away. Then we have these two stars sitting right next to
each other. We have Asellus Borealis which stands for the northern ass.
It is 181 light-years away. Then Asellus Australis, this stands
for the southern ass or donkey. This one is 131 light-years away. There’s
some interesting mythology about both of these stars. According to the Greeks,
these stars represented the donkeys that the god Dionysus and his tutor, Salinas,
rode in on the war against the Titans. These donkeys frightened the Titans and
the war against them was won. So the gods placed the donkeys up in the sky to
honor them. That’s a little bit of an interesting story there for you about
those stars. Finally we’re going to take a look at the celestial objects within
Cancer. So looking at our star map here there’s two that we are gonna focus on
one is M44 and the other is M67. The location of M44 is right between the
two stars that represented the donkey. It’s really a spectacular star
cluster this one is called Messier 44. It’s an open star cluster which
means it’s relatively young in the history of the universe on the order of
millions of years. It’s about 515 light years away and to the
unaided eye it looks like a fuzzy patch in the sky. It has been called the
Beehive Cluster by early observers because of its resemblance to a swarm of
bees. The name has since stuck in modern times. Some ancient cultures
believed they were peering into the floor of heaven called the gate of men,
where the souls descended from heaven to Earth to be born. It has also been
called Praesepe II. This star cluster played a very important role in the
history of astronomy. Galileo was the first to turn his telescope to this
fuzzy patch in the sky. He discovered it was a star cluster and
this cluster that he discovered along with many other observations made by
Galileo really became the catalyst to the scientific revolution- the idea is
that the universe were laid out by us. Aristotle, so many
years ago, just began to shift once Galileo started to change the old
beliefs with his observations of the sky. Our final celestial object within Cancer
is called M67. It is another open star
cluster. It’s located towards the bottom of the Y here. It’s not as bright as
M44 is, but it still is worth taking a look at through your binoculars their
telescope if you have one. So it is about 2,700 light-years away. Being that
it’s an open star cluster it is again relatively young on the order of
millions of years. We consider that young because the age of the universe is
on the order of billions of years. So this star cluster is one that is
relatively young. To review. Cancer the Crab is best seen in
the springtime. It is a zodiacal constellation, which means that the Sun, the planets, and the Moon all pass through the borders of this
constellation. The best way to find it is looking for Gemini. If you can
find the two bright stars of Castor and Pollux, you just need to shift your gaze
and try to find the fuzzy patch in the sky. In terms of bright stars, this is not
one that has very many bright stars at all. In fact the way I am able to
identify this in the sky is by looking at the celestial object called the
Beehive Cluster or Praesepe, also known as M44. The other celestial object is
located down towards the bottom of the constellation and that is another
open star cluster. Thank you so much for watching! I hope this was
helpful and you were able to learn more about how to identify Cancer in the sky,
and the objects that are situated within its borders.


  • kadiyalidurga says:

    ur voice is very good and videos are excellent ,which are giving lot of information , i was searching for this on the internet for a year , finally i saw yours , we need all 12 zodiac constellations . u have mentioned most cultures of earth planet ,but you left vedic civilization , persians have thefted vedic data on constellations from indus civilizations , but vedic period offers a lot on constellations of modern science. u can decode the modern science with the help of vedic knowledge.we need ur email address ,if you do not have any objections on sharing the knowledge of this divine science.

  • Nihar Pattnaik says:

    Thanks Janine for another very detailed video. A small correction though. the star that you have marked and described here as Acubens is actually Minzal V (16 Hya), part of the neighboring constellation of Hydra that lies a little to the south. Acubens (Alpha Cancri) is a little to the north of Acubens and is dimmer and fairly inconspicuous much like the rest of Cancer. To locate it in your picture, look exactly at the midpoint of the line joining Minzal and Asselus Australis and then slightly to the left .

  • W Covey says:

    I believe you have the head of the constellation Hydra in the picture, and what you point out as Acubens is a part of Hydra's head, oh yes a good and helpful video.

  • sushamini rastogi says:

    Very nicely describe

  • Paul Caelum says:

    Very good ,

  • Fay Star says:

    Thank you so much this was wonderful and very helpful!

  • Leon’s YT Channel says:

    Cancer: Fortnite

  • Niner Empire says:


  • DatMemeGuy says:

    Lel cancer

  • Andrea Patane says:

    Did you know that Hercules killed ♋ after it bit him on his foot? He did that by crushing him which only occurred in Greek mythology. My uncle and Harry Potter (character who appeared in J.K. Rowling's novels vs. my novels about Hope Feelgood) are born under this zodiac sign that seems to be a clawful of imagination.

  • spicy noodles says:

    Why does your thumbnail show a lobster?

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