What are the Dog Days of Summer?

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(WUTR) — You might have heard the phrase “dog days of summer,” but what does that mean? Does it even have anything to do with dogs? 

Historians say that the term originates from Sirius, the dog star. It’s the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major, which translates to “greater dog” in Latin. In ancient Greek and Roman culture, the “dog days” would occur when Sirius appeared to rise alongside the sun in July and early August. They believed that the heat from these two stars combined is what made these days the hottest of the year.

Due to a wobble in the Earth’s rotation known as axial precession, the position of stars in the night sky like Sirius has shifted from what it used to be thousands of years ago. This means that today’s “dog days” fall several weeks later on the calendar. Though the Old Farmers Almanac reports that the traditional timing of the “dog days” in the U.S. is between July 3 and August 11.

Although we have just passed the traditional dog days of summer, it’s definitely possible that the Capital Region could see a few more really hot days before summer ends.

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