The Dog Days of Summer: Less About Hot Dogs and More About Astronomy
By | July 10, 2019
When the heat of July hits like a blanket fresh from the dryer, the old-timers like to say that we are in the dog days of summer. If you are like most people, this conjures up images of lazy dogs—for some reason, it is a Bassett Hound in my vision—reclined on the front porch, panting away the heat. While it may be true that some dogs are less active in the oppressing heat, that's not how the phrase "dog days of summer" started. To find the origins of the phrase, we have to look not to the front porch but into the night sky.
It's All About Sirius ... Seriously
It was the ancient Greeks and Romans who first coined the phrase "dog days of summer." For them, this was a term to describe the period of time in the summer when Sirius, the so-called "dog star," rises in the early morning sky just before the sunrise. Sirius is visible from early July through the end of August, so its appearance coincides with the hottest time of the summer. The ancient Romans believed that Sirius was so bright that it send its heat to Earth, just like the Sun does, and caused July and August to be extra hot and steamy.