Daily Archives: July 2, 2013

July 3*: Dog Days

dry-grassIt’s the Dog Days of summer! At least, it is according to Old Farmer’s Almanac. That famous publication lists the Dog Days from July 3 to August 11, but other dates give different dates. For example, ancient Rome listed them from July 23 or 24 to August 23 or 24.

sleeping-dogThe Dog Days are those hot, sticky (miserable?) days of summer when most of creation lies around like a lazy dog, waiting for things to cool off. However, it’s name has absolutely nothing to do with those lounging dogs. Instead it recognizes the Dog Star, Sirius, in the constellation Canis Major (which means, you guessed it, “big dog”).

image credit: EarthSky Communications

image credit: EarthSky Communications

The Dog Days originally occurred when Sirius rose near the same time as the sun, near the hottest time of the summer. Ancient Greeks and Romans believed that Sirius was causing the bad weather, so they called the days after it. Thus, we have Dog Days.

If today is a particularly hot day in your neck of the woods, I recommend a cool drink, some air conditioning during the day, and perhaps some sky watching in the very early morning, to see if you can locate Canis Major and the Dog Star. It’s the brightest star in the sky, in line with Orion’s belt.

“When I kept silent,
my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
For day and night
your hand was heavy on me;
my strength was sapped
as in the heat of summer.”

Psalm 32:3-4