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Dog days of summer

People frequently refer to the month of August as "the dog days of summer."

The dog days of summer get their name from the star Sirius, commonly known as the "Dog Star." In ancient times, when artificial lights did not obscure the stars, people looked to the sky as a source of inspiration and answers to questions they otherwise could not explain. Groupings of stars known as "constellations" were used to tell stories, and these stories were part of ancient folklore.

One constellation prominent during the summer months is Canis Major, which includes a bright star named "Sirius." Ancient peoples surmised that this star's brightness warmed the Earth, not unlike the sun. In addition, Sirius rises and sets in conjunction with the sun in the summer.

It was believed that Sirius added even more heat to the sun, creating the humid and especially hot days of summer. This time on the calendar was thusly named the dog days of summer.

Thanks to scientific study and a better understanding of astronomy and weather, it is known that the dog days of summer do not owe their extreme warmth to Sirius. Rather, the heat is a direct result of the Earth's tilt on its axis during this time of the year.

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