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Deepsky Top-100 (5): Zeta Cancri

Double and multiple stars can be observed from light polluted areas. In Cancer there is a great triple star that can be observed with almost any kind of telescope, Zeta (ζ) Cancri, or Tegmine. As you can see on the map below, you can find Zeta Cancri about 8 degrees west-southwest of M 44 (Praesepe).

Zeta Cancri

Finder chart for Zeta Cancri. Limiting magnitude 6.5.
Credit and copyright SkyTools 2 by Capellasoft

Click here to download a printable finder chart (PDF)

The A and B component of Zeta Cancri are separated by only 0.8". The magnitudes are 5.6 and 6. B lies at a position angle of 72 degrees. Even in bigger amateur telescopes they are not separated, but appear oblong. In my 8 inch, at 200x I even did not see the oblong shape of the AB couple. They just looked like a single star of the 6th magnitude.

The C component lies at a position angle of 88 degrees, and the separation from the AB pair is 5.7". Together with the AB pair, the C component makes a magnificent duo. The C component shines at magnitude 6.2, the AB pair at magnitude 6. They are almost even in brightness but also in colour. Both are bright yellow.

In 1756 Johann Tobias Meyer discovered that Zeta Cancri was a double star (A and C component). William Herschel Discovered the third star (C component) in 1781.

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