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The name comes from the Latin; cancer means crab. The crab in question is the one sent by Hydra to attack Heracles. It was only a bit part, but one which secured its immortality.

Mason Schroder

on 28 April 2010

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Transcript of Cancer

Cancer This constellation represents the crab that attacked Hercules when he was fighting the Hydra. The poor crab was crushed underfoot by mighty Hercules, and subsequently elevated to the heavens.

Star Table Asellus Borealis 4.7 158 light years Gamma Cancri blue-white 9,400 Name Magnitude Distance from Earth Type Color Surface Temperature Acubens 4.3 174 light years Alpha Cancri blue-white 8,500 Altarf 4.0 298 light years Beta Cancri orange 4,040 Asellus Australis 3.9 136 light years Gamma Cancri orange 3,500 Asellus Australis 3.9 Acubens 4.3 Altarf 4.0 Asellus Borealis 4.7 Cancer lies to the north of the equator, consequently it is above the horizon as seen from mid New Zealand for only some 9.5 to 10 hours each day. By the end of April the constellation will be due north at about 7 pm, that is by the time the sky is completely dark following sunset. The constellation remains visible in the early evening until June when it will be low to the north-west once the sky is dark.

The Greek mythology of Cancer the Crab is simply a family mess. It is hard to imagine that the mighty family of Zeus could be so dysfunctional, but there you have it. The story begins with Zeus having an affair with Alcmene, the queen of Tiryns. The result of this union was the Heracles (the Romans named him our familiar Hercules), the most famous Greek Hero. Of course, this union and offspring did not go over too well with Hera, the wife of Zeus. Hera, in her jealous state, swore to kill Hercules. Hera attempted to have Hercules killed many times but his imposing strength allowed him to overcome. Cancer comes into this ‘beloved’ scene when Hercules is fighting the terrible water-serpent, Hydra. During the battle between Heracles and Hydra, Hera sent Cancer, the giant crab, to aid the serpent. As the violent fight took place, Cancer was nipping at Hercules feet. But Heracles, being so mighty in strength, killed the crab by smashing its shell with his foot. Hera then placed the crab's image in the night sky as a reward for it’s service.
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