International Star Registry

All Constellations

Cancer - Crab

Cancer is represented in the heavens as a crab situated between Leo on the east and Gemini on the west.

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.

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.

Mythologists 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.

Right Ascension 08:38
Diameter (°)17
Area (square °)506
Opposition Jan 27
Size Rank 31st
Brightness Rank 56th