How did the Cancer constellation get its name?


The Cancer constellation is one of the twelve zodiac constellations and is located in the northern sky. It is best visible during the months of March through June in the northern hemisphere. But how did it get its name? Let’s take a closer look at the history and mythology behind the Cancer constellation.

History of the Cancer Constellation

The Cancer constellation has been known since ancient times, with records dating back to the Babylonians in the 4th century BCE. They believed that the stars of the Cancer constellation represented a crab, and it was later adopted by the Greeks and Romans. In fact, the word “cancer” comes from the Latin word for crab.

Mythology Behind the Cancer Constellation

In Greek mythology, the Cancer constellation is associated with the story of Heracles (Hercules) and the twelve labors he had to complete to atone for killing his wife and children. One of these labors was to kill the Hydra, a giant water serpent with nine heads. During the battle, the goddess Hera, who hated Heracles, sent a crab to distract him. Although the crab was ultimately killed, Hera placed it in the sky as a constellation to honor its bravery.

In another myth, the Cancer constellation is associated with the goddess Demeter and her daughter Persephone. The story goes that Hades, the god of the underworld, abducted Persephone and took her to the underworld to be his queen. Demeter was heartbroken and searched for her daughter endlessly. In her search, she came across a crab who promised to help her find Persephone. As a reward for its efforts, Demeter placed the crab in the sky as a constellation.


The Cancer constellation has a rich history and mythology, dating back to ancient times. The Babylonians, Greeks, and Romans all recognized the constellation as a crab, and its name comes from the Latin word for the creature. In Greek mythology, it is associated with the story of Heracles and the battle with the Hydra, as well as the goddess Demeter and her search for her daughter Persephone. Today, the Cancer constellation remains an important part of astronomy and astrology, and continues to fascinate stargazers and astronomers alike.