Monthly archive for August 2021

Citywalk News for August

Have you ever wondered what is meant by the dog days of summer? For many, the “dog days,” are those summer days that are so devastatingly hot that even dogs would lie around panting. But originally, the phrase had nothing to do with dogs, or those hot lazy days of summer. Instead, the dog days 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 Canis Major, the Greater Dog. This is why Sirius is sometimes called the Dog Star.

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. They referred to this time as diēs caniculārēs, or “dog days.”

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—July 3 to August 11 each year.

Summer Heat: It’s All About The Tilt

While this period usually is the hottest stretch of summer, the heat is not 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.

Personally, I just try to stay cool and hydrate. But, as I think back, the only times I was bitten by dogs (plural) was during those dog days of summer.

DOG DAYS OF SUMMER FOLKLORE

Old-timers believed that rainfall on the Dog Days was a bad omen, as foretold in this verse:

Dog Days bright and clear
Indicate a happy year;
But when accompanied by rain,
For better times, our hopes are vain.

“Dog Days are approaching; you must, therefore, make both hay and haste while the Sun shines, for when old Sirius takes command of the weather, he is such an unsteady, crazy dog, there is no dependence upon him.”
–The Old Farmer’s Almanac, 1817

Keep cool and keep those dogs cool. Make sure your dogs have plenty of water and a shady place to lay down.

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110 Church Street
Ferguson, MO 63135
(314) 524-5197
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