Constellation CancerPublished | Updated
The constellation of Cancer is one of the twelve Signs of the Zodiac. It is a rather inconspicuous constellation, which shines relatively weak in the sky.
How to spot Cancer
Cancer is the faintest of the Zodiac constellations and is difficult to see. If you locate the brightest stars of Gemini and the brightest star of Leo, Cancer lies in between them. The Lynx lies to the north and Hydra to the south – give it a go! The shape of it looks like an inverted letter Y. Cancer can theoretically be seen in both hemispheres. In the northern hemisphere it is best viewed from late autumn to spring. In the southern hemisphere Cancer can be seen in the summer and autumn months.
In Greek mythology, the Cancer appears rather as a secondary character. Thus, it is associated with a heroic act of Hercules: During a battle against the multi-headed Hydra, the Goddess Hera sent a crab because she hated her illegitimate stepson Hercules. The crab tried to kill Hercules but failed miserably. In gratitude for the try, Hera sent it to heaven, but as it could not fulfill its task, it does not shine as brightly as the other constellations today.
The brightest star in the constellation, Altarf, is 500 times more luminous than the sun. Looking at Cancer through a telescope is a great start for stargazers – you get to see an open cluster called the Beehive Cluster which is the nearest to the Earth and contains about 50 stars.