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Praesepe

[pri-see-pee, prahy-suh-pee]
noun Astronomy.
  1. an open star cluster in the center of the constellation Cancer, visible to the naked eye.
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Origin of Praesepe

1650–60; < Latin praesēpe crib from which cattle or horses are fed, manger; the neighboring brighter stars Gamma and Delta Cancri (Asellus Borealis and Asellus Australis) were pictured as asses which fed from a manger
Also called Beehive cluster, Manger.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for praesepe

Historical Examples

  • Behind the high altar a praesepe or “crib” was prepared, with an image of the Virgin.

    Christmas in Ritual and Tradition, Christian and Pagan

    Clement A. Miles

  • The antiphon was in direct imitation of the other, commencing 'Quem quaeritis in praesepe, pastores?'


British Dictionary definitions for praesepe

Praesepe

noun
  1. an open cluster of several hundred stars in the constellation Cancer, visible to the naked eye as a hazy patch of light
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Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for praesepe

Praesepe

n.

loose ("open") star cluster (M44) in Cancer, from Latin praesaepe the Roman name for the grouping, literally "enclosure, stall, manger, hive," from prae- (see pre-) + saepire "to fence" (see septum).

It is similar to the Hyades but more distant, about 600 light-years away, consists of about 1,000 stars, mostly older, the brightest of them around magnitude 6.5, thus not discernable to the naked eye even on the clearest nights, but their collective light makes a visible fuzz of glow that the ancients likened to a cloud (the original nebula); Galileo was the first to resolve it into stars (1609). The modern name for it in U.S. and Britain, Beehive, seems no older than 1840. Greek names included Nephelion "Little Cloud" and Akhlys "Little Mist." "In astrology, like all clusters, it threatened mischief and blindness" [Allen].

"Manger" to the Romans perhaps by influence of two nearby stars, Gamma and Delta Cancri, dim and unspectacular but both for some reason figuring largely in ancient astrology and weather forecasting, and known as "the Asses" (Latin Aselli), supposedly those of Silenus.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper