The dog days of Summer

After all the rain we’ve had over the last week (my yard registered 10 1/2″ in the rain gauge) we are finally getting a glimmer of the sun and a taste of the intense summery weather. With the rain come humidity and for those of you who enjoy the “soupy” weather you’ll be happy to know that there will be plenty of it!

We are starting to enter the “Dog Days of Summer”. This is commonly understood to be 40 days from early July to mid-August in the northern hemisphere. In the southern hemisphere it is from February through March. It is literally a period of stagnation.

Why is it called “dog days”?

In ancient times it was common practice for people all over the world to create images or pictures in the sky by joining the dots of the stars in the night sky. Nowadays these are called constellations and they were mapped out by Europeans. One of the constellations that were created was Canis Major and Canis Minor. The brightest star within Canis Major is called Sirius – the big dog.

In the summer, Sirius (Dog Star) rises and sets with the sun. The people believed that this star added heat to the sun when it was in conjunction with the sun, thereby creating a period of swelteringly hot weather. They named the 20 days before and the 20 days after, “dog days” after the Dog Star.

Today, dog days occur during the period between July 3 and August 11. Although it is certainly the warmest period of the summer, the heat is not due to the added radiation from a far-away star. Instead the heat of summer is a direct result of the earth’s tilt.

Whatever you are planning to do during the dog days of summer, make sure you drink plenty of water, use lots of sunscreen and do something fun!