What Stars Make up the Cancer Constellation? (Revealed!)

As we gaze up at the night sky, the celestial wonders above us have captivated humanity for millennia. Among the stars that adorn the heavens, the constellations stand out as intricate patterns that tell stories of ancient myths and cosmic marvels. One such constellation is Cancer, the Crab, which has been a source of fascination and inspiration throughout history. In this article, we will embark on a journey to discover the stars that make up the Cancer constellation, unveiling their names, significance, and the myths that have woven them into the fabric of human imagination.

The Origin and Significance of the Cancer Constellation

Cancer is one of the twelve constellations of the zodiac, positioned between Gemini and Leo. It is named after the Latin word for “crab,” and its association with this creature goes back to ancient times. In Babylonian astronomy, it was known as the “Crab,” while in Greek mythology, it was associated with the giant crab that Hercules battled during his Twelve Labors. The constellation’s position along the ecliptic made it of great importance in early astrology, and it is the origin of the astrological sign of Cancer.


The Stars of Cancer Constellation

1. Praesepe (M44) – The Beehive Cluster

One of the most prominent features within the Cancer constellation is the Beehive Cluster, also known as Messier 44 or M44. While not a single star, the Beehive Cluster is an open star cluster containing hundreds of stars bound together by gravity. Located approximately 577 light-years from Earth, the Beehive Cluster is visible to the naked eye as a faint smudge of light and has been observed for centuries.


2. β Cancri (Beta Cancri)

Altarf: Beta Cancri, also known as Altarf, is the brightest star in the Cancer constellation. It is an orange giant star located approximately 290 light-years away from Earth. Altarf serves as the “head” of the celestial crab in some depictions of the constellation.


3. α Cancri (Alpha Cancri)

Acubens: Alpha Cancri, or Acubens, is the second-brightest star in Cancer. It is a binary star system consisting of two white stars located about 173 light-years away. Acubens is often referred to as the “claw” of the crab.


See Also: A Full Guide to Cancer Zodiac Women: All You Need to Know

4. γ Cancri (Gamma Cancri)

Asellus Borealis: Gamma Cancri, known as Asellus Borealis, is another notable star in Cancer. It is part of a binary star system and is located approximately 158 light-years away from Earth. Asellus Borealis represents one of the crab’s “don’t touch” claws.

5. δ Cancri (Delta Cancri)

Asellus Australis: Delta Cancri, or Asellus Australis, is the counterpart of Asellus Borealis in the Cancer constellation. Also part of a binary system, it is approximately 131 light-years away and represents the other “don’t touch” claw.

6. ε Cancri (Epsilon Cancri)

Meleph: Epsilon Cancri, known as Meleph, is a binary star system located about 604 light-years away from Earth. It is often associated with one of the crab’s legs.

7. 66 Cancri (Tegmen)

66 Cancri, or Tegmen, is a faint star located approximately 367 light-years away from our planet. While not as prominent as some of the other stars in Cancer, it adds to the constellation’s overall charm.

How Many Stars Does Cancer Constellation Have?

The constellation Cancer is not known for its bright stars, and it doesn’t have a specific number of stars associated with it like some other constellations. Instead, Cancer is a relatively dim and faint constellation, and it is best known for the star cluster Messier 44, commonly called the Beehive Cluster or Praesepe. This cluster contains many stars, but it’s not a single star system.

The exact number of stars you might see in the Beehive Cluster can vary depending on your location and viewing conditions, but it contains hundreds of stars. Other than the Beehive Cluster, Cancer doesn’t have any particularly prominent individual stars associated with it.

What are the main stars in the Cancer constellation?

The Cancer constellation doesn’t have any particularly bright stars. Its most notable star is Beta Cancri, also known as Al Tarf or the Southern Claw. Other stars in the constellation include Alpha Cancri (Acubens), Delta Cancri (Asellus Australis), and Gamma Cancri (Asellus Borealis).

When is the best time to observe the Cancer constellation?

The Cancer constellation is best observed during the winter months in the Northern Hemisphere, particularly in January. It is visible in the early evening hours.

Cancer in Astrology

In the realm of astrology, Cancer is the fourth sign of the zodiac and is associated with individuals born between June 21 and July 22. As a water sign, Cancer is characterized by its emotional depth, sensitivity, and intuitive nature. The influence of the Moon, Cancer’s ruling planet, further enhances its connection to emotions and intuition.

1. Emotional Intuition

Cancer individuals are known for their strong emotional intuition and empathy. They possess a remarkable ability to understand and connect with the feelings of others, making them compassionate and caring friends, partners, and confidants.

2. Nurturing and Protective

Much like the Crab that symbolizes Cancer, individuals born under this sign are nurturing and protective. They have a natural inclination to take care of their loved ones, creating a sense of emotional security and stability in relationships.

See Also: Top 8 Zodiac Signs Cancers May Not Get Along With

3. Home and Family Focus

Cancer’s strong attachment to home and family is a defining trait. Family bonds are of utmost importance to Cancer individuals, and they often find great joy in creating a warm and harmonious home environment.

4. Intuitive Creativity

Cancer’s intuitive and imaginative nature extends to their creative pursuits. Many Cancer individuals are drawn to artistic endeavors, using their emotional depth to express themselves through various forms of art.

5. Mood Swings and Vulnerability

Cancer’s connection to the Moon can lead to mood swings and fluctuations in emotions. They may experience moments of introspection and introspective reflection, causing them to retreat into their protective shell.

Some interesting facts about the Cancer Constellation

Location: Cancer is located in the northern celestial hemisphere and can be seen between the constellations Gemini to the west and Leo to the east. It is best observed during the winter months in the northern hemisphere.

Faint Stars: Cancer is not particularly known for its bright stars. Its stars are relatively faint, which can make it challenging to spot, especially in light-polluted areas.

Praesepe Cluster: The most famous feature within the Cancer constellation is the “Beehive Cluster” or “Praesepe,” which is a large open star cluster. It’s one of the closest open clusters to Earth, located about 600 light-years away. To the naked eye, Praesepe appears as a faint, hazy patch of light.

Notable Stars: Although it lacks particularly bright stars, Cancer contains several interesting binary star systems and variable stars. One of its notable stars is Al Tarf (Beta Cancri), which is a binary star system.

Mythological Origin: In Greek mythology, Cancer is associated with the story of Hercules and the Twelve Labors. The crab is said to have been sent by the goddess Hera to distract Hercules during one of his labors. Hercules ultimately defeated the crab by crushing it under his foot, and as a reward, Hera placed the crab among the stars as the constellation Cancer.

Zodiac Sign: Cancer is one of the twelve zodiac constellations, and it represents the astrological sign of Cancer. People born under this sign are said to be sensitive, emotional, and nurturing.

Astronomical Significance: The Cancer constellation is not particularly rich in deep-sky objects, but it contains a few galaxies, including the open spiral galaxy Messier 44, also known as the Praesepe Cluster.

Variable Stars: The constellation Cancer contains some variable stars, which means their brightness changes over time. These stars are of interest to astronomers studying stellar evolution and other astrophysical phenomena.

Zodiacal Light: Cancer is also associated with the zodiacal light, a faint, diffuse glow of sunlight scattered by interplanetary dust in the plane of the solar system. This phenomenon can be observed in the vicinity of Cancer and other zodiac constellations during certain times of the year.


The Cancer constellation is a celestial masterpiece that has captivated human imagination for centuries. Its stars, though dimmer than some of their counterparts, hold immense significance in our understanding of the cosmos. From the Beehive Cluster to the individual stars that form the “claws” and the “donkeys,” each stellar component contributes to the rich tapestry of the Cancer constellation.

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