Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Dog Days Of Summer Explained

When it's 82 degrees at 6 in the morning and too humid to drink coffee on the back porch, you know that you're in the midst of the Dog Days of summer.

Speaking of Dog Days, where did that term come from?
The brightest star in Canis Major is Sirius (above), which rises and sets with the sun and during late July in conjunction with the sun.

Ancient folks believed that its heat added to the heat of the sun, creating a stretch of hot and sultry weather. They named this period of time, from 20 days before the conjunction to 20 days after, "dog days" after Sirius, -- or roughly early July to mid-August.
We, of course, know that it is the earth's tilt and not a faraway star that creates summer temperatures, but I for one don’t feel any cooler knowing that. And am willing to stretch the classic definition of Dog Days to Labor Day.

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