Friday, July 18, 2008

In the Dog Days of Summer

We are in the midst of the "Dog Days of Summer" which is the period of time in the summer generally from the first part of July until mid-August. In ancient times, this period of time was when the brightest star in the sky, Sirius (also called the "Dog Star"), rose and set with our Sun.

The ancient Romans recognized the "Dog Days" and called them caniculares dies ("days of the dogs") for the Dog Star.

They thought that the rising and setting of the big bright star Sirius with the Sun added to the heat we normally received from the Sun, making it extra hot during this period of time.

The ancient Greeks actually gave the Dog Star the name "Sirius" and for them, the rising of Sirius with the Sun was the sign that annual flooding of the Nile would begin.

Happy Dog Days and at least, unlike the ancients, we have a Locopops around the corner to help get us through the Dog Days.


Marsosudiro said...

You say "dogstar" and I think of this Tom and Jerry episode (click then scroll down to the second ep)

I haven't had any (fast) luck figuring out how to spot Sirius in the summer sky, but check out this wack description of the dogstar in somebody's astrology blog, which mentions ancient Egypt's thoughts detection of the binary star.

Durham Bull Pen said...

Marsosudiro--great links! Thanks.

The stars always feel like such a direct link to our ancestors hundreds and hundreds of years ago. What must it have been like to have no artifical light pollution interfering with a view of the sky?