If you canít see the Beehive, on an
otherwise clear night, it means a storm coming. The ancient
Greeks discovered this, and modern meteorology confirms that
itís to do with disturbances in the upper atmosphere, too
fine to see, but enough to blur your view of the star cluster.
In our series on the zodiac signs in the
night sky, it's time to look at the constellation of Cancer.
Face exactly west at about 10.30pm. Straight ahead is Jupiter,
clear and bright. The stars of Cancer are right next to him.
Next year he will have moved on, as planets do, and you wonít
be able to find Cancer so easily! Cancer is a surprisingly
dim constellation, with no really bright stars to help you
spot it. Just to the right and down a bit from Jupiter youíll
see a little star (a very big one, actually, but an unimaginable
distance away) called the Southern Ass. Thereís another above
it, on the same level as Jupiter, called the Northern Ass.
This pair of donkeys was important to the ancient world because
the Southern Ass is exactly on the path the sun takes. Years
ago the day when the sun and the donkey star coincided marked
midsummer. Just right of Jupiter and the donkeys, you may
see a vague cloudy patch, actually a cluster of hundreds of
stars, zillions of miles away. Many myths are attached to
this area, known as either the Manger, or the Beehive. Some
said it was the gate through which souls came to earth to