And you get a moment, check out your new Chatroom! Checked the Moon calendar and we will be having a chat Saturday. Any particular time good for you? Mornings? Lunch time? Afternoons? Remember this is an informal gathering, rather a “Meet and Greet.” I hope to see that chatroom I busted my rump on full.
You know I only busted my rump on it because I love you!
Explanation: What’s that light at the end of the road? Mars. This is a good month to point out Mars to your friends and family because our neighboring planet will not only be its brightest in 15 years, it will be visible for much of night. During this month, Mars will be about 180 degrees around from the Sun, and near the closest it ever gets to planet Earth. In terms of orbits, Mars is also nearing the closest point to the Sun in its elliptical orbit, just as Earth moves nearly between it and the Sun — an alignment known as perihelic opposition. In terms of viewing, orange Mars will rise in the east just as the Sun sets in the west, on the opposite side of the sky. Mars will climb in the sky during the night, reach its highest near midnight, and then set in the west just as the Sun begins to rise in the east. The red planet was captured setting beyond a stretch of road in Arches National Park in mid-May near Moab, Utah,
Here’s how to find the constellation Cancer in your sky. Plus Cancer’s place in sky history, lore and science.
Chances are you’ve never seen Cancer the Crab, the faintest of the 13 constellations of the zodiac. Cancer the Crab may be found between the two brightest stars of Gemini (Castor and Pollux) and Leo’s brightest star (Regulus). Follow the links below to learn more about this constellation.
How to find the constellation Cancer. In the Northern Hemisphere, Cancer is best seen in the evening sky in late winter and early spring. It is lost in the sun’s glare in July and August, and then is found in the morning sky starting in September. If you’re up before dawn during a Northern Hemisphere autumn, try finding Cancer and its Beehive star cluster.
Let’s suppose you have identified the Leo star Regulus, and the Gemini stars Castor and Pollux – and you look between them for Cancer and see, well, nothing much. Remember, Cancer is faint. Our advice is to look for it in a dark country sky.
Cancer is always well placed for viewing in March, and it is also well placed for evening viewing in April and May. It starts to descend into the sunset glare in June.
In early March every year, look for the constellation Cancer to be due south and highest up in the sky around 10 p.m. local time. (From the tropics, Cancer shines high overhead, and from temperate latitudes in the Southern Hemisphere, Cancer appears due north.) Because the stars return to the same place in the sky about four minutes earlier each day, or one-half hour earlier weekly, look for Cancer to be highest in the sky in mid-March at 9 p.m. local time (10 p.m. local daylight saving time). By late March or early April, Cancer reaches its high point for the night at 8 p.m. local time (9 p.m. local daylight saving time).
On a moonless night, Cancer is surprisingly easy to see in a dark country sky. You can locate the Crab’s place on the Zodiac by referring to certain zodiacal stars. The two brightest stars in the constellation Gemini, Castor and Pollux, shine on one side of Cancer, while Regulus, the brightest star in the constellation Leo, lies on the other side.
Cancer’s famous Beehive star cluster. Cancer makes up for its lackluster stars by having within its boundaries one of the sky’s brighter star clusters, the Beehive cluster, also known as M44. Another name for the Beehive is Praesepe (Latin for “manger”).
In a dark sky, the Beehive looks like a tiny faint cloud to the unaided eye. As seen through ordinary binoculars, this nebulous patch of haze instantly turns into a sparkling city of stars. It is an open cluster, one of the nearest to our solar system. The Beehive is thought to contain a larger star population than most other nearby clusters.
The Beehive’s stars appear to be similar in age and proper motion to stars of the V-shaped Hyades open star cluster. It’s possible the two clusters were born from two parts of a single vast cloud of gas and dust in space.
Significance of constellation Cancer. Cancer’s stature as a constellation of the zodiac has remained steadfast over the millennia. Over two thousand years ago, the sun shone in front of the constellation Cancer during the Northern Hemisphere’s summer solstice. That’s not the case today, however.
Today, the sun resides in front of the constellation Taurus when the summer solstice sun reaches its northernmost point for the year on or near June 21.
Nonetheless, Cancer still seems to symbolize the height and glory of the summer sun. To this day, we say the sun shines over the Tropic of Cancer – not the “tropic of Taurus” – on the June solstice. That’s in spite of the fact that the sun in our time passes in front of the constellation Cancer from about July 21 until August 10.
Nowadays, the sun doesn’t enter the constellation Cancer until about a month after the Northern Hemisphere’s summer solstice.
Cancer in history, myth and science. According to Richard Hinckley Allen, in his book Star Names: Their Lore and Meaning, astrologers call Cancer the House of the Moon from the early belief that the moon was located here at creation.
In astrology, the moon is said to rule Cancer. Astrology differs from astronomy in that astrologers assume positions of heavenly bodies have certain influences over human affairs. Astronomers generally regard the supposed connections as unfounded and view astrology as a pseudo-science.
Interestingly enough, however, modern-day astronomers believe the sun might have originated from Cancer’s fainter star cluster, Messier 67, though this study seems to throw cold water on the idea. Still, it looks as if Cancer may be the home of a creation story in both astrology and astronomy.
In ancient Chaldean and Platonic philosophy, Cancer was called the Gate of Men. It was through this portal that souls descend from the heavens above and into the bodies of the newly born.
Around 2700 years ago, the sun passed in front of the Beehive cluster on the Northern Hemisphere’s summer solstice. Back then, this cluster stood at the apex of the Zodiac, so perhaps it was this heavenly nebulosity that marked the Gate of Men. At present, the sun has its annual conjunction with the Beehive cluster in late July or early August.
In olden times, before the advent of light pollution, the ancients referred to the Beehive as the Praesepe (“little cloud”). The Roman author Pliny reports that when the Praesepe is invisible in an otherwise clear sky, it’s a sure sign of impending storm. Yes, the Beehive cluster once served as a celestial weather station.
Although Cancer may be the faintest constellation of the Zodiac, its legacy remains intact. On a dark, moonless night, look for Cancer’s faint grouping of stars to spring out in between the more conspicuous constellations Gemini and Leo.
Bottom line: Looking for the constellation Cancer? How to find it here. Plus Cancer’s place in sky history, lore and science.
Bruce McClure has served as lead writer for EarthSky’s popular Tonight pages since 2004. He’s a sundial aficionado, whose love for the heavens has taken him to Lake Titicaca in Bolivia and sailing in the North Atlantic, where he earned his celestial navigation certificate through the School of Ocean Sailing and Navigation. He also writes and hosts public astronomy programs and planetarium programs in and around his home in upstate New York.
Jupiter, like every planet, flows in and out of direct and retrograde motion. While certain planets (Mercury, Venus or Mars) tend to disrupt our vibe here on Earth with great fanfare when out of phase, Jupiter has a more subtle effect. Still, it can be just as potent.
As the energy of this giant ball of blessings turns inward for the duration of the retrograde (about four months per year) I see this as an extra special gift. Even if you feel teased by the universe, if used correctly, the Jupiter Retrograde months can help you solidify your inner conviction, faith and optimism for a brighter world and future, both personally and collectively. We all get to cash in on this amazing gift as soon as Jupiter turns direct. Lucky us!
Use Jupiter Direct’s power wisely
Here’s an analogy that might help you understand the significance of Jupiter’s power when he turns direct on July 10, 2018 — and how to make sure you use it wisely.
Think of Jupiter as your favorite cupcake. You haven’t had this treat in ages and the craving, when you see the cupcake in front of you, is intense. You know that if only you could take a bite out of it, every inch of you would fill with joy.
This cupcake catches your eye as you walk past the bakery because there are dozens displayed, sumptuously, in the window. Your mouth begins to water and you feel yourself turning towards the door to enter the bakery. You simply must indulge.
But then, your imminent cupcake heaven is interrupted when your hand twists to open the door and is met with resistance. It’s locked.
When it’s locked, of course, Jupiter is retrograde. You see the cupcakes displayed in the window, but all you can do is press your nose against the glass and dream about them. This initial disappointment forces you to turn the Jupiter energy inward. You meditate about how much better you and the world might be once you can enjoy the yummylicious treat.
Days turn into weeks and the bakery never opens. You discover that the owners took an extended vacation to the Mediterranean and there are no more cupcakes to gawk at in the window. But there they remain, tattooed inside your mind’s eye.
Make your own cupcakes
Jupiter Retrograde begins to work his magic when your vision becomes so intense for that cupcake that you consider whether you have the capacity to make them yourself. Do you? You sit and wonder. As you look deep within for the answers (the point of Jupiter Retrograde) you finally realize that yes, you believe enough in yourself to at least try. You have faith.
You spend another few weeks in solitude experimenting with ingredients and recipes until you hit the jackpot. When the day finally arrives and you’re staring at luscious cupcakes made in your very own kitchen, with your bare hands and positive mind, the moment is pure heaven. Tasting those cupcakes is the most incredible gift you’ve ever given yourself.
That day, Jupiter turns direct.
You pass by the bakery later that afternoon and notice that cupcakes have filled the window again. They’re open! Ahhh, but your craving is gone. Still, you want to see what happens if you open the door. Much to your delight, you glide right into the store and the owner greets you with a wide smile.
“Would you like to sample one of our signature cupcakes?”
You consider for a moment and then decline. “Thank you so much, but I’ve had my fill. While you were away I had such a craving for your cupcakes that I decided to create my own recipe. I must say, they are incredible. Everyone who has tasted them says they’re the best they’ve ever had.”
The store owner’s eyes twinkle with interest. “You don’t say? Well, I have a proposition for you, my friend. Would you like to sell me the recipe for your amazing cupcake? We’ve been looking for something new and tasty to offer our customers.”
Your wheels begin to turn and you accept the offer.
Within a month of Jupiter turning direct, your cupcakes are a best-seller. You develop new recipes that continue to please even the most discriminating cupcake palette. Sales at the bakery have doubled. The owner offers to make you a partner and you accept.
You remember those darker months when Jupiter was retrograde and all you wanted was a cupcake that seemed out of reach. You recall how just as soon as you started to have faith in yourself and your inner gifts, everything began to fall into place. The answers were inside of you all along … you just had to believe.
Life is good, my friends, life is very good. After all, Jupiter is finally direct. So go ahead, have your cupcake and eat it too.