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Learn about the Dog Days of Summer

Jennie Sparrow | 7/27/2017

It’s the “dog days of summer” . . . we’ve all heard the term, but what does it really mean? Dogs meeting at the beach on a hot day? Days so hot they’re howling like crazy? To me, it always meant lazy, long, hot days right in the middle of summer. I found out recently I was half right. Technically, the “dog days of summer” are between July 3rd and August 11th (right in the middle of summer) but the name stems from a much more interesting, astrological source.

The time period between July 3th and August 11th, the Sun is in the same spot in the sky as Sirius, the brightest star visible from any part of Earth and part of the constellation Canis Major, aka “the Greater Dog” (why Sirius is sometimes called the “Dog Star.”) In the summer, Sirius rises and sets with the Sun.

On July 23rd, specifically, it is in conjunction with the Sun, and because the star is so bright, the ancient Romans believed it actually gave off heat and added to the Sun’s warmth, accounting for the long stretch of sultry weather. They referred to this time as the “dog days.” So, while this period usually is the hottest part of summer, the heat is not due to any added radiation from Sirius, the heat of summer is simply a direct result of the Earth’s tilt

So, grab your furry friend and head to the pond for a dip. Chances are it’s hot outside, and you both could use the cool down!