Dog Days of Summer

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By Kelly Whitt/ suite101.com

It may seem odd that the brightest star in the sky and one associated with the cold nights of winter would be the source of the saying “the Dog Days of Summer,” but it is. Sirius is the brightest star in the sky (besides the sun). It is up shining brightly in the night sky during long winter nights and is mostly invisible during the summer due to its closeness to the sun and appearance above the horizon during daylight hours.

Sirius is the alpha star in the constellation Canis Major. Canis Major is called the Big Dog, which gives Sirius its nickname of “the Dog Star”. The name Sirius means “scorching,” which may relate to its brightness as a star and its relationship to summer. It was because Sirius “disappeared,” or joined the sun during the summer, that the saying came about. Ancient Romans believed that Sirius added its warmth to that of the sun’s as they neared one another and that this was what produced the hottest days of summer.