The Crab

Fully Visible:56°S – 90°N

Cancer is a member of the zodiac. This is one of the most ancient of constellations, harking back to Babylonia where it was known as either a crab or snapping turtle. The ancient Egyptians associated it with the scarab beetle, the sacred emblem of immortality. The ancient Greeks thought it represented the crab that Heracles stepped on during his fight with the Hydra.

The obsolete constellation Cancer Minor appears between the crab and the constellation Gemini.

The constellation of Cancer

Notable Features

Visible Named Stars
α Cnc Acubens This star sometimes appears as Sertan (from the Arabic al‑saraṭān meaning 'the crab') in older star atlases and catalogues.
β Cnc Tarf This is actually the brightest star in the constellation.
γ Cnc Asellus Borealis The name of this star means 'the northern donkey'.
δ Cnc Asellus Australis Whereas this star is called 'the southern donkey'.
ε Cnc Meleph This star sometimes appears as Praesepe (from the Latin praesepe meaning 'the manger') in older star atlases and catalogues. It also appears as Al Nethra (from the Arabic al‑nathra meaning 'the sneeze [of the lion]') in Mohammad Al Achsasi Al Mouakket's calendarium.
ζ¹ Cnc Tegmine Tegmine is the brightest component of a multiple star. A small telescope will show two objects but the brighter one is actually a binary.
λ Cnc Piautos This sixth-magnitude star is named for the Coptic lunar station in which is resides.
ξ Cnc Nahn The origin of the name of this spectroscopic binary star is Persian.
ρ¹ Cnc Copernicus Also known by its Flamsteed designation 55 Cnc, this star is known to have at least five exoplanets.
Other Interesting Stars
DX Cnc This is a nearby neighbour of the Sun. Lying at a distance of nearly 12 light years, it shines at a feeble fifteenth magnitude. It is found on the sky map near φ² Cnc.
HD 73534 Gakyid This eighth-magnitude star is known to have at least one exoplanet. It is located due south of the open star cluster M44, and not far from M67.
Deep Sky Objects
M44 Beehive, Praesepe This open star cluster is over 500 light years away. Because it is located so near to the ecliptic, solar system objects often pass near or through it, affording excellent astrophotographic opportunities.
M67 Few open star clusters are older than this one. Binoculars are necessary to see this sixth magnitude object.
C48 A medium-size telescope will be necessary to view this spiral galaxy. Long-exposure photographs reveal multiple spiral arms around the central bulge. It is also catalogues as NGC 2775.
Meteor Shower Radiants
793 KCA κ Cancrids There are no major meteor showers associated with this constellation but the minor shower known as the κ Cancrids peaks in January. This shower is usually detected by radar.