Mars and the Beehive! See them together on June 1 and 2

Mars and the Beehive

On the evenings of June 1 and 2, 2023, you can spot Mars as it passes through a background star cluster known as the Beehive in Cancer the Crab. In fact, Mars appears as a big, bright ruby surrounded by tiny diamonds of distant stars.

First, to find Mars, look for brilliant Venus in the west, which at magnitude -4.3, wants to steal the show. You may also notice two bright stars strung out to one side of Venus. These are the twin stars in Gemini, Pollux and Castor. Above Venus and this duo is a bright, reddish light … that’s Mars. And if you’re in a dark-sky site or have binoculars, you can spot the smattering of stars beside the red planet.

Green line of ecliptic with Venus and Mars circled beside the Beehive cluster, also Castor and Pollux labeled.
The Beehive star cluster in Cancer the Crab gets a visit from reddish Mars on June 1 and 2, 2023. Aim your binoculars at the red planet to see the sparkling background star cluster. Bright Venus, Pollux and Castor are nearby. Read more about Mars and the Beehive below. Chart by John Goss/ EarthSky.

A closer look at the Beehive star cluster

You’ll want binoculars to get a good look at just some of the 1,000 stars in the Beehive. While you can spot the cluster with your eyes alone, they will appear as a misty patch. However, with optical aid, the true nature of this star cluster comes alive.

The stars in this cluster lie about 577 light-years distant. So when you gaze at the Beehive, think about how many planets might reside among these 1,000 stars. We already know of at least two (Pr0201b and Pr0211b).

Circle with arrow showing motion of Mars across the Beehive cluster, with red dots for Mars on 2 dates.
Binoculars will help reveal the Beehive cluster’s many stars near bright Mars. Chart by John Goss/ EarthSky.

Do you have a photo to share? Submit it at EarthSky Community Photos. We sure enjoy seeing them.

Starry sky showing Beehive cluster with reddish Mars nearyby.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | David Hoskin of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, captured this image on May 31, 2023, and wrote: “This image shows Mars approaching the Beehive Cluster, which is an open star cluster in the constellation Cancer.” Thank you, David.

Bottom line: Spot Mars and the Beehive star cluster together on June 1 and 2, 2023. You’ll want binoculars to get a good view of the starry cluster making a sparkling background for the red planet.

Want to see more night sky events? Visit EarthSky’s night sky guide

Our charts are mostly set for the northern half of Earth. To see a precise view from your location, try Stellarium Online.

June 1, 2023

Like what you read?
Subscribe and receive daily news delivered to your inbox.

Your email address will only be used for EarthSky content. Privacy Policy
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

More from 

Kelly Kizer Whitt

View All