How are you doing? Heat got you down? Have you been hanging out at the beach or the pool? Sitting in front of the fan/air conditioner reading or watching the tube? Maybe sleeping in a hammock? Going to the mall/theater/ library where there is air conditioning just to get cool? Kids running through the sprinklers or have you dusted off the old slip ‘n slide and brought it out for summertime fun? We’ve had some very warm, okay hot, days this summer. And it’s hard to keep calm when it is hot for several days in a row.
It got me to thinking about the expression:the dog days of summer. That sounds odd, though I can picture my daughter’s dog, Stanley, laying around panting on a very hot day. Curious, I did some online research. I found a website called “Encyclopedia.com”, which searches online encyclopedias and dictionaries. Here is their explanation from the Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th Edition, 2013 :
dog days, name for the most sultry period of summer, from about July 3 to Aug. 11. Named in early times by observers in countries bordering the Mediterranean, the period was reckoned as extending from 20 days before to 20 days after the conjunction of Sirius (the dog star) and the sun. In the latitude of the Mediterranean region this period coincided with hot days that were plagued with disease and discomfort. The time of conjunction varies with difference in latitude, and because of the precession of the equinoxes it changes gradually over long periods in all latitudes.
Now you know the answer lies in the constellations above us. Sirius is part of Canis Major, The Big Dog. In the Northern Hemisphere you can view Sirus (the brightest star) on Winter and Spring nights or sometimes see it ascending before dawn on late summer mornings.
Happy Dog Days!