Summer! The signs are all around us. There are the sounds of neighborhood kids playing outside, crowds splashing at the community pool, and calendars bursting with vacation notices. Take a look and you will see bicyclist sailing along the paseos, beaches full of sun drenched visitors, families enjoying evening backyard barbecues, and of course, SoCal seeing daily excessive heat warnings. We are definitely in the dog days of summer.
Do you know where that saying comes from, “the dog days of summer?” They are typically the hottest, most uncomfortable part of summer in the Northern Hemisphere where dogs sit around panting in the heat, but that isn’t the origin of the name. It turns out that the “Dog days” is an astrological event. It is so named due to the heliacal rising of the star system Sirius, the “Dog Star.” It’s the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major. The heliacal rising is a fancy way to say when a star first makes its appearance above the horizon at dawn, appearing along with the sun to herald a new day. The Greeks associated the appearance of Sirius with heat, drought and lethargy. I can relate! I’m ready for an afternoon nap and it’s still morning.
Stay cool! Enjoy the dog days of summer as much as you can and get plenty of water if you go out. And if you get a chance, gaze up into the heavens sometime, follow Orion’s belt down to his best friend, the brightest star. See if you can spot Spot. He is up there, the dog in the sky welcoming us all to enjoy the dog days of summer.
Becky Little, “Here’s why we call this time of year the ‘dog days’ of summer,” National Geographic, July 16, 2021, accessed July 10, 2023, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/article/150710-dog-days-summer-sirius-star-astronomy-weather-language.