The Dog Days of Summer

I have often wondered where the phrase “The dog days of summer” came from, so I decided to look it up. Like most casual internet surfers, I took a look at Wikipedia. I thought their take on my quest was interesting, Wikipedia states:

Paul Harris and Tom Jorgensen of The Old Farmer’s Almanac write “The phrase Dog Days conjures up the hottest, most sultry days of summer,” coinciding with the rising, at sunrise (i.e., the helical rising), of Sirius, the dog star, in the constellation Canis Major. While the correlation between the hottest and most humid weather of the year with this specific calendar period has not survived the broadening of weather understanding and communications to global, the correlation of the rising of Sirius with extreme heat has been sufficient in enough climes in the Northern Hemisphere such that the expression dog days “with hot, sultry weather was made for all time.”

Sources: Wikipedia “Dog Days”
The Old Farmer’s Almanac

Checking out a couple of astronomy books will help you know where to look in the sky and what you can expect to see.  You’ll discover that the constellation Canis Major is near Orion the Hunter and Lepus the Rabbit. I thought that was pretty appropriate being the Dog Star and all. There is also a Canis Minor just up and back from Canis Major; I don’t see it as a dog as there are only two stars in it, but there it is.

We have some great materials available at the library on the topic of Astronomy. You might want to check out Viewing the Constellations with Binoculars by Bojan Kambic as well as The Stargazing Year: A Backyard Astronomer’s Journey Through the Seasons of the Night Sky by Charles Laird Calia.

Some websites with Astronomy information to consult are:  or  and you may also consider local organizations like the Chippewa Valley Astronomical Society and  Beaver Creek Reserve.

I have always enjoyed looking up at the night sky. A black velvet blanket covered in diamonds that some unseen hand scattered on the velvet. I know I have seen Sirius when looking up, but didn’t realize that it is the brightest star in our night sky. It doesn’t actually look like a dog to me, but it could be. Stargazing is a great activity to do with friends or family; there are lots of books on astronomy, websites and clubs to assist and inform.  Go to any search engine and put in Sirius star and you can learn a lot about this constellation. My quest for information led me to an understanding of where it was exactly located in the sky and allowed me view some really great images.

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