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What Are The Dog Days of Summer?

Written on:July 16, 2019
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What Are The Dog Days of Summer?

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What Are The Dog Days Of Summer?

What Are The Dog Days Of Summer?

We often hear about the dog days of summer but few know what the expression means. Some say that it signifies really hot days not fit for a dog, and others suggest it’s the weather in which dogs go mad.

But here come the Myth Busters to the rescue! In all reality, the Dog Days of Summer describes the most oppressive period of summer, between July 3rd and August 11th each year. But where did the term come from? And what does it have to do with dogs?

According to the Farmers’ Almanac, the phrase Dog Days of Summer is actually a reference to the fact that, during this time, the Sun occupies the same region of the sky as Sirius, the brightest star visible from any part of Earth and part of the constellation called the Canis Major, or the Greater Dog. This is why Sirius is sometimes called the Dog Star. Hence the dog in the logo of the Sirius Satellite Network. Who knew?

Turns out that in the summer, Sirius rises and sets with the Sun. On July 23rd specifically, it is in conjunction with the Sun, and because the star is so bright, the ancient Romans believed it actually gave off heat and added to the Sun’s warmth, accounting for the long stretch of sultry weather. So they referred to this time of the summer as the dog days. Get it?

Thus, the term Dog Days of Summer came to mean the 20 days before and 20 days after this alignment of Sirius with the Sun – from July 3 to Aug. 11 of each year.

However with the Sun and the Earth, it’s also all about the tilt too. While this period usually is the hottest stretch of summer, the heat is not really due to any added radiation from Sirius, regardless of its brightness. The heat of summer is simply a direct result of the Earth’s tilt.

During summer in the Northern Hemisphere, the tilt of the Earth causes the Sun’s rays to hit at a more direct angle, and for a longer period of time throughout the day. This means longer, hotter days.

So contrary to all the popular beliefs, that’s actually where the term Dog Days of Summer comes from!

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