Cancer - Starry Sky

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The Cancer constellation is visible late at night in Autumn,
at midnight in late Winter and at evening time in the early Spring.

(22nd June – 22nd July)

Cancer constellation has been named following a legend. A crab went out from a swamp and tried to bite Hercules, while he was fighting with hydra of Lerna. Hercules was furious and killed the swamp, but Juno, who was an enemy of Hercules, because he was the adulterous son of Jupiter, wanted to give a place to the swamp in the Zodiac. Cancer constellation is less brighter than all the other zodiac constellations, but it is a very important constellation because it gave the name to the tropic of Cancer, which is the terrestrial latitude (lat. north 23° 27') where the Sun were perpendicular at midday of the 21st of June, the Summer solstice, in the time of Ancient Greece. Nowadays, the rotation of the Earth around its axis (precession of the equinoxes) has relocated this position to a point between Gemini and Taurus, but the old name has been preserved.


The most important star is β Cancri. Two stars, which were named the Northern Donkey (Asellus Borealis) and the Southern Donkey (Asellus Australis) in antiquity, are visible on the crustacean's body and are separated by the big nebula, called the Praesepe. Following ancient tradition, the two donkeys, γ (gamma) and δ (delta) Cancris, are present in an episode of Dionysus life. Dionysus went insane, because Hera wanted it. She was the jealous wife of Zeus and she was an enemy of Dionysus because he was the son of Zeus and Semele (“moon”). Dionysus was wandering far and wide to find the oracle of Zeus Dodoneo, who was the only one able to make him come to his senses, accompanied by Silenus, the God of wine in the Mediterranean Sea. When they arrived in a big swampland, no one helped him, but two donkeys carried him to the other bank without touching the water. When Dionysus arrived in the Temple and was delivered from madness, he rewarded the two donkeys placing them in the constellations.


Cancer hieroglyph represents crab’s chelae, which resemble the breast, that is a symbol of maternity and fecundity. Indeed the symbol linked to Cancer sign is Mother goddess, who has very ancient origin. Nowadays Mother goddess is represented by the Virgin Maria. In the most ancient representations, she is symbolized by a woman with big belly and big breast, then as a woman with multiple breasts, and finally as a mother who feed one or more children. It symbolizes pregnancy, the formation of life. It is the sign of subconscious and individuals born under this sign are dreamer, overemotional, susceptible and suggestible, as well as the moon which rules this sign. They are wistful and keeper of infant memories. Women born under this sign often identify with the mother, going to the detriment of the rule of wife, while men look for maternal attention from their partner. Cancer is a cardinal sign (cardinal signs are the four zodiac signs, where the Sun lies at the beginning of each season. Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn. They are joined by a red line in astrology graphics). The cardinal quality makes these individuals stable and authoritative and it is explained by the willpower of controlling emotions, home and family in this sign.


The Cancer gemstones are milky and iridescent. Examples are the moonstone (Adularia), which is recommended for women who want to be pregnant, opal with blue-green reflections which opens up the mind to visions. However, gemstones which are found in the sea, such as pearl and mother-of-pearl, and characterized by the power of maintaining beauty and youth, are also associated to this zodiac sign. The essence is lilac and colours are white and violet.

“I wonder if the stars are lit up because everyone will find its own one day.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
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