• Maxine Smith

Cancer - Constellation of the Month

With South Africa's national lockdown still in effect, why not use the time to learn more about the dazzling constellations overhead! This month we feature the zodiacal constellation of Cancer.

LOCATING CANCER

Cancer can be found between Gemini and Leo in the in the northern half of the sky. It is the faintest of the zodiacal constellations and is sometimes hard to spot in more light polluted skies. It is easiest found by looking for the diffuse haze of its most famous deep sky object, the Butterfly Cluster.


THE MYTHOLOGY OF CANCER

Cancer is the smallest and faintest of the Zodiac signs. Not much mythology exists but accounts suggest that Cancer represents a crab sent by Zeus’s wife, Hera, to distract Hercules from his 2nd labour of slaying the Lernaean Hydra.

The Hydra was a monster with many heads that regrew when decapitated, as well as poisonous breath and blood. The crab nipped at Hercules’s feet but was crushed by his sandal. Hercules defeated the Hydra by systematically removing its heads and cauterizing the wounds with a torch to prevent them from growing back. Hera honoured the (unsuccessful) role of the crab by immortalising it in the sky as Cancer.

In the time of the Ancient Greeks, the summer solstice, the highest point of the Sun in its annual journey, coincided with the Sun being in Cancer and thus this line became known as the Tropic of Cancer. Since then, the wobble of Earth’s orbit (Precession) has seen the solstice move through Gemini and is currently in Taurus.

DEEP SKY OBJECTS IN CANCER

Messier 44, also known as the Beehive Cluster, is one of the largest Open Clusters in the Sky. It shares motion with the Hyades cluster in Taurus, suggesting the 2 groups of stars may have come from the same molecular cloud.

The Beehive Cluster manifests as a cloudy spot between Gemini and Leo and is best viewed with binoculars. Within the cluster, over 1000 young stars are embarking on the stellar journeys.

Its alternative name is Praesepe, meaning ‘manger;. It is situated between 2 stars in Cancer named the ‘Northern’ and ‘Southern Donkey Colt’ and represents the store of hay for these celestial asses.


Ben Coley

Celestial Events SA

Cel: 071 034 4644 / 079 575 0900 www.celestialeventssa.com Instagram: @celestial_events_sa

2 views

Subscribe for Updates & Offers

South Africa Office

Nyumbani Estate

Marochia (Pty) Limited

T/As Nyumbani Estate
PO Box 1672
Hoedspruit 1380

Limpopo, South Africa

Enquiries: +27 (0) 78 789 4095

Email: enquiries@nyumbani-estate.com

Company Registration: 2015/385940/07

UK Office

Nyumbani Kichaka Ltd T/AS:

Nyumbani Estate

Charterstone House
Inverkeithny
Huntly
Aberdeenshire, Scotland, UK
Cell: +44 (0) 78 1000 1238
Email: enquiries@nyumbani-estate.com

 

Company Registration: SC451912

Follow Us

  • Grey TripAdvisor Icon
  • Grey Facebook Icon
  • Grey Instagram Icon
  • Grey Twitter Icon

Subscribe to our website to receive information on special offers and day/weekend packages.  Every subscriber will be entered into a monthly prize draw to win a gift voucher.

© Nyumbani Estate